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Being its Annals from the Earliest Recorded 

Events to the Hundredth Year of 

American Independence. 




Ojdice of the "Buffalo Commercial Advertiser.^' 

.K^i^'^nl :- ^ 




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by Crisfield Johnson, 
in the Office of-*he Librarian of Congress ^ at Washington, 



Abbott's Corners, 337, 355 

Adams, Erasmus, 124 

Adams, Joel, 123 

Aigin, James, 232, 238 

Akron, 376, 386, 426 

Alden, . . ..184, 296, 311, 356, 363, 389 

Aldrich's Mills, 374 

Algonquins (see Hurons). 

Allen, Ethan 1 74 

Allen, L. F. , 397, 402 

Allen, Wm., 144 

American Navy, 240 

Amherst (see Williamsville), 118, 

125, 146, 171, 183, 389, 423 
Ancient earthworks, etc., 20, 121, 

124, 173 

Anecdotes, 82, 89, 92, 117, 119, 

144, 148, 151, 153, 164,. 166, 168, 

184, 188, 189, 191, 208, 209, 215, 

230, 251, 261, 268, 275, 292, 303, 

305. 309, 3'o, 3'9. 320. 326, 338, 
342, 343, 362, 393, 398, 405, 407, 451 

Amsdell, Abner, 130 

Angus and King's exploit 217 

Anti-masonry, 378, 385, 388, 410 

Ararat, 366 to 370 

Assembly, members of, 170, 205, 
267, 300, 379. 385, 388, 394, 397, 
401, 410, 412, 422, 426, 430, 447, 
448, 449. 450. 452, 453. 458. 466, 

479, 490. 505. 506. 507 
Aurora, 123, 132, 173, 184, 297, 

314, 387, 389, 411 

Austin, Wm., 185 


Babcock, G. R., 406, 408, 440,443, 447 

Bar of the county, 342, 432 

Barker, Zenas 130, 172, 265 

Barker, G. P., 401, 410, 433 

Barton, J. L., 308, 405 

Bass, L. K. 504, 505, 506 

Battles, skirmishes, etc., 27, 54, 
55, 62, 213, 217, 230, 234, 238, 
24s to 250, 281, 286, 469, 471, 
474. 481. 482,486, 491. 493. 49S. 

499. 500 

Beaver, the ship, 58, 186 

Bemis, J., 112, 130, 152, 208, 229 

Bemis, Mrs., 255 

Bennett, D. S., 505 

Big .Sky 86 

Big Tree road, 113 

Bird, W. A., .' 324. 43° 

Black Joe, 84 

Black Rock, 55, 103, 178, 182, 
213 to 220, 234 to 238, 246 to 
250, 308, 316, 331, 341, 351, 424, 446 

Boies, Wm 299 

Boston, 119, 121, 131, 142, 175, 

190, 229, 306, 316, 359 to 362, 389 

Boundaries of the county 9 

Brant, Joseph, 61, 75, 76 

Brant, town of, 376, 424 

Breboeuf and Chaumonot, 25 

Brown, Gen. J 268 to 278, 289 

Bull, Capt. J., 235, 236, 247 

Burnt Ship bay, 53 

Buifalo (see Black Rock), 83, 98 to 
100, 114, 125, 147, 152, 162, 170, 
181, 193, 250 to 264, 268, 279, 
292 to 296, 300, 306, 314, 322, 
333. .•541. 346, 359, 357. 363. to 

375. 388, 434, 447 

Buffalo Convention 437 to 439 

Buffalo creek, '5. 63, 69, 75 

Buffalo Creek reservation, 93, 100, 

376, 422, 428 

Buffaloes, 17, 25, 69 

Buffum, Richard, 186, 332 

Canal, Erie, 301, 311, 322, 353, 

357. 370 to 372, 375, 400, 434 

Captain David, 72 

Catholics, 24, 25, 49, 386 

Cary, Richard, 131, 174 

Cary, Truman, 174, 306, 345, 422 

Cary, Calvin, 259 

Cat, nation of the (see Erie nation). 

Cattaraugus creek 14, 64 

Cattaraugus reservation, 93, 376 

Cayuga creek, 15, 193 

Cayuga Creek settlement 173, 357 

Cazenove creek, 15 

Cheektowaga, 172, 423 

Chippewa, battle of, 270 to 276 

Champlin, Commodore, 240 

Chapin, Dr. C, 116, 160, 200, 213, 
216, 227, 239, 241 to 243, 24s 

to 254, 257, 332, 419 

Cholera 398 

Churches and church buildings, 142, 
145. 177. «8o, 184, 299, 317, 333, 

380, 394, 399. 400, 401, 403 
Clarke, A. S., 132, 145, 161, 170, 

205, 293, 300, 315 

Clark, James 173, 192, 337, 361 

Clans of the Iroquois 30 to 33, 



Clarence, 98, loi, 106, in, 118, 
125, 133, 146. 154. 181, 183, 292, 

356, 400 

Cochran, Samuel 174 

Golden 186, 383, 389 

Colegrove, B. H., 332, 430 

Collins (see Lodi and Gowanda), 

142, 17s, 188, 334, 389, 446 

Colvin, Mrs , 122 

Concord (see Springville), 143, 187, 

J 89, 299. 334, 389 
Congressmen, 179, 182, 224, 267, 

293. 300, 315. 330. 354, 358. 377, 
384, 388, 397, 401, 410, 422, 430, 

439, 441, 447, 449. 45°, 453. 458, 

478, 503, 505, 506 

Colby, John 311 lo 313 

Conjockety, Philip 117 

Cornplanter; 81, 85, 88 

Council on Buffalo creek, 76 to 82 

County and City Hall, 512 

Court-hoivses 170, 300, 512 

Cronk, James 315, 327, 332 


D'Aubrey's expedition, 51 to 53 

Devil's Hole, 54 

Devil's Ramrod, 106 

Dudley, Maj. W. C, 182, 246, 249 

Dutch, the 23, 38 

East Hamburg, 118, 122, 131, 

142, 153, 173, 185, 191, 298, 441 

Eaton, Rufus, 187, 189, 307, 319 

Ebenezer Society, 442, 454 

Eddy, David,. . . 122, 201, 204, 267, 332 
Eden, 175, 190, 201, 262, 299, 305, 

333, 354 
EUicott, Joseph, 97 to 109, 115, 

168, 349 

EUicott, Benjamin, 102, 300 

Elma 376, 429, 454 

Emmons, Dr. C, 356, 426, 430 

Emmons, Wales, 319 

English dominion 54 to 59 

Episodes (other than battles), 40 10 
44, 71 to 73, 76 to 82, 85 to 88, 
145 to 150, 221 to 223, 250 to 265, 
311 to 313, 327 to 329, 346 to 
349, 359 to 363, 365 to 370, 370 to 
373. 381, 395. 397 to 399, 405 to 
409, 413 to 420, 427 to 439, 442 to 444 

Erie, old town of, 120, 129, 154 

Erie, new town of, 35b, 394 

Erie, Fort, 56, 228, 269, 279, 281 to 289 

Erie nation, 19, 26 to 28 

Evans, 123, 141, 176, 209, 318, 

332, 333, 350, 354 

Fair, first, 332 

Farmer's Brother, 54, 79, 84, 89, 

165, 232 to 236, 239, 279 to 281 

Fences, 139 

Fenno, Moses, 183 

Fiddler's Green, 299 

Fillmore, Glezen,i77, 294, 317, 327, 363 
Fillmore, Millard, 355, 384, 385, 
387, 394, 397. 401, 410, 422, 426, 

430, 436. 439 to 441, 447, 450, 460 

Fitzgerald, Lord Edward, 71, 73 

Forty-ninth N. Y. Vols., 464, 472, 

480, 491 to 494 

Forward, Oliver 180, 267, 323, 345 

Gazette, Buffalo, 194 to 206, 223, 

265, 314 

Ganson, John 466, 478, 506 

Genesee county, 109, 152 to 154 

Geology, 12 

Germans, 385, 394, 412, 427, 442 

to 444, 454, 465, 51 1 

Germans, (Pennsylvania,) 125 

German Young Men's Association, 

427, sio 

Gilbert Family, 64 to 66 

Gowanda (see Lodi), 441 

Grand Island, 14, 211, 324, 327 to 

329, 360, 402, 447 
Granger, E., 1 1 7, 127, 170, 178, 206, 

210, 233, 24s 

GiUett, J 147, 149 

Greenbacks, origin of, 467 to 469 

Griffin, the 40 1042, 185 

Griffm's Mills, 311, 339 

HaU, N. K., 387, 421, 431, 432, 

440, 511 . 
Hamburg, 119, 141, 185, 201, 209, 

261, 298, 389, 441, 478 

Harris Hill, 146, 265 

Hard Times, the, 411 

Hastings, Chauncey, 350 

Hatchets, Norman, 22, 28 

Hatch, ]. T., 397, 450 

Haven, S. G.,..43i, 432, 441, 447, 449 

Heacock, R. B.,....i93, 316, 332, 374 

Hennepin, Father, 40 to 42 

Hitchcock, Alex., 172, 332, 424 

Hodge, Wm., 130, 194, 253, 263 

Holland, 145, 175, 189, 229, 298, 

. 311 to 313, 389 
Holland Company, 84, 95, 107, 

„ „ . ^ , '52, 170, 358, 378, 4" 

Holland Purchase 97 to 108, 152 

Holmes' Hill 144 

Holt's execution 393 

Hopkins, Gen. T. S., 102, 125, 170, 

, . 182, 245, 294, 323 

Horse bedstead 135 

Horn breeze 179, 317 

Hoysington, J 352 

Hull, Capt. Wm....i49, 150, 235, 251 

Humphrey, A 145, 229, 323 

Humphrey, F^ort, 229 

Humphrey, J. M.,. .,450, 490, 503, 505 



Husking bee, 163 


Indians (see Iroquois, Senecas, 

Kahquahs, Eries, etc.) 

Indian land-sales, 74 to 82, 95, 377, 

422, 428 

Iroquois, 19, 26, 30 to 40, 42, 60 

to 94, 163 to 169, 210, 231 to 

239. 245. 262 

, . J- 

Jesuits, 24, 49 

Johnson, Dr. E., 180, 205, 293, 

357, 385. 396. 398 

Johnson, Mrs 256 

Johnson, G. W 387 

Johnson, Sir William, 49 to 59 

Johnson, C. and 119, 121 

Johnston, Capt. Wm. . ..64, 78, 90, 150 


Kahquahs 18, 20, 25 to 28 

Kinney, 1). C, 118 

Kirlcland, Rev. S., 78, 83 

Lancaster, 98, 118, 125, 172, 317, 

357, 399, 401 

Lafayette, 364 

La tjalle, 39 to 44 

Landon, J., 147, 149, 171 

Le Couteulx, L. S., 125, 170 

Limestone ledge, 12, 426 

Lodi 374, 380, 441 

Logging bee, 138 

Love, J ohn 359 to 362 

Love, T. C, 383, 385, 401, 431 

Lovejoy, Mrs 255 to 257 

Lundy's Lane, 276 to 278 


Marilla, 376, 386, 429, 448 

Marine aft'airs, 40, 57, 296, 301, 

307, 317, 351, 400 

Marriages, 198, 209 

Marshall, Dr. J. E., 293, 384, 398 

Mather, David, 147 

Maybee, Sylvanus, 100, 134, 151 

Mayors of Buffalo, 396, 421, 425, 

442, 446, 507 

McClure, Gen. G 241 to 244, 259 

Medical College, 435 

Mechanical Society, 201 

Medical Society, . 200 

Mobbing a hotel, 222 

Monroe, President, 308 

Moral Society, the, 295 

Morgan's abduction, 377 

Moseley, W. A 412, 430, 511 

Murders, 294, 326, 359, 393 


Natural characteristics, 12 to 17 

Neuter Nation (see Kahquahs). 
New Amsterdam (see Buffalo). 

Newark, burning of, 242 

Newspapers, etc., 194, 224, 293, 
314. 323. 346, 358, 380, 385,402, 

430, 444, 5" 

Niagara county, 153, 335 

Niagara river, 14 

Niagara, Ft., 46, 48, 51, 53, 63,91, 243 

Noah, M. M., 365 to 370, 402 

North Collins, 175, 188, 320, 338, 446 

Officers, county, 170, 182, 204, 227, 
293. 3°°, 315, 333, 354, 357, 574, 
383, 385, 397, 40', 410,412, 426, 
431, 435, 436, 439, 440, 447, 448, 
449, 450, 452, 453, 458, 466, 478, 

490, 504, 505, 506, 507 

Old King, 64, 81 

One Hundredth N. Y. Vols., 465, 

473 to 476, 481 to 485, 494 to 497 
One Hundred and Sixteenth N. Y. 
Vols., . . . 477, 485 to 489, 498 to 502 

Onlario county, 83, 109 

Osborn, Mrs 145 


Palmer, John, 100, 109 

Patriot War, 413 to 420 

Peacock, Wm 114 

Perry, Commodore, . . . . 226, 239, 242 

Peter Gimlet, 164 

Phelps, Oliver, 74, 78, 82 

Pioneering 134 to 140, 156 to 162 

Plumb, Ralph 374 

Plumping-mills, 136 

Pomeroy, R. M . , 221, 264 

Porter, Gen. P. B.,179, 182, 217, 
219, 221, 227, 233 to 239, 241, 
267, 283, 285 to 289, 292, 324, 

341, 379, 383 
Potter, H. B., 193, 323, 332, 3b i, 

363, 367, 384, 385 
Pratt, Samuel,. ... .127, 147, 163, 213 

Powell, Capt., 64, 65, 84, 85 

Proctor, Col 85 to 88 


Queen Charlotte, the 209 

Ransom, Asa, 91, 101, 106, 133, 

146, 151, 170, 204, 227, 315 

Ransom, Harry B 102, 416 

Kathbun, Benj., 407 to 409 

Rebellion, beginning of, 459 

Red Jacket, 80, 85 to 89, 167, 210, 
231, 239, 269, 271, 275, 276, 292, 
303, 324, 347 to 349, 362, 3b4, 

376, 382, 390 392 

Recorder's Court, 426, 450 

Reed, Israel, , 258 

Reese, Uavid, 116, 169, 295 

Relics 28, 124, 185 

Revolution, the, 60 to 67 

Rice, Elihu, 189, 205, 268, 316 

Richmond, Gen. ¥., 175, 267, 299, 

301, 3 1 fa, 346 



Root, John 170, 265, 342 

Russell, W. C, 297 

Sagoyewatha (see Red Jacket). 

Salisbury, Aaron 176, 209, 426 

Sardinia, 175, 189, 265, 290, 332, 

334, 350. 389 
Scajaquada creek, 15, 83, 100, 247, 281 
Schools, etc., 142, 143, 148, 173, 

389. 399. 421, 435 
Scott, Gen. Winfield, . ..267 to 278, 416 

Settlement, 104 to 194 

Senators, State, 205, 330, 374, 385, 
401, 412, 430, 436, 440, 447, 448, 
450, 452, 453, 466, 490, 505, 506, 507 
Senecas, The, 19, 45, 47, 49, 52, 
54 to 94, no, 163 to 169, 210, 
231 to 239, 245, 260, 262, 269 to 

276. 279. 303. 309. 324, 376> 422, 428 

Shooting Niagara, 388 

Silver Greys, 208 

Six Nations (see Iroquois). 

Slaves ill Erie county, 330 

Smith, Daniel 13'. '73, J*^S 

Smith, Richard 185, 300 

Smith's Mills, (Aurora) 176, 299 

Smith's Mills, (Hamburg), 185, 298, 

33'. 337 

Smyth, Gen. A., 216 to 221, 225 

Souihwick, Geo., 187 

Spaulding, E. G 467 to 469 

Speculation, 400, 403, 405 to 408 

Spencer, " Father," 290, 299, 310 

Springs, stoned up 29 

Springville, 143, 187, 299, 319, 331, 389 

Spy, Indian, 279 

State reservation, 73, 99, 377 

Staunton, Adjutant 235 to 238 

Stephens, Phmeas 143, 208, 224 

Stephens' Mills, 243 

Storrs, Juba 170, 182 

Sugar-making 159 

Superior Court and judges 450, 507 

Supervisors, in, 129, 146, 172, 
175. «77. '93. 201, 226, 267, 293, 
300, 306, 314, 323, 330, 345, 354, 
358, 374, 375, 378. 383. 386. 388, 
394, 402, 410, 412, 421, +24, 431, 

441, 442, 456, 467. 479, 490. 504, 507 
Supreme Court justices, 435, 436, 

448, 507 

Taylor, Jacob 142, 175 

Tenth New York Cavalry, 466 

Thayers, the three, 359 to 363 

Timber, original 16 

Tomahawk, anecdote of, 144 

Tommy Jimmy, 303, 346 to 349 

Tonawanda, 171, 183, 211, 246, 

308, 357. 380, 4'o 

Tonawanda creek, '4 

Tonawanda reservation, 93,376,422, 428 

Topography, '3 

Town meeting, first, i" 

Tracy, A. H., 293, 315, 330, 354. 

358, 377, 385, 40'. 4'2 

Trails, Indian, lOl 

Transit, West, 99 

Treat, Oren, 176 

Trowbridge, Dr. J., 201, 227, 412 

Tucker, Samuel, 187, 340 

Tupper, Samuel 130, 170, 204, 307 

Turkey, John 320 

Twenty-first New York Vols. 

462, 469 to 472, 480 


Vandeventer, P in, 129, 146, 171 

Volunteers, 221, 228, 285 to 289, 

459 to 503 

Walden, E., 147, 170, 203, 250, 

257. 258, 357. 361 
Wales, 144, 174, 184, 297, 314, 

33°. 363, 389, 393 

Walk-in-the- Water 316, 351 

War for the Union, 459 to 503 

Warner, D. S., 297, 389 

War of 1812 207 to 290 

Warren, Jabez 113, 123 

Warren, Gen.Wm., 132, 143, 151, 

170, 182, 205 to 249, 261, 267, 

285, 294, 298, 315 
Warren, Asa, . . .268, 305, 316, 354, 412 

Well and sweep, 157 

White Woman, the 60, 395 

White's Corners, 337 

Wiedrich's Battery,. .465, 478, 485, 497 

Wilber, Stephen 188 

Wilkeson, Samuel, 250, 264, 293, 

307, 322, 331, 333, 350 to 353, 357 
Williams, Jonas, .... 133, 204, 227, 267 
Williamsville, 102, 107, 125, 133, 

146, 171, 183, 266, 292, 296, 386, 426 
Willink, 120,129, 146, 154, 181, 297, 313 

Winney, Cornelius, 83, 88, 92 

Wood, James, 184, 192, 363, 431 

Worth, Gen. W. J., 279,418 

Wright's Corners 142, 298, 337 

Wright's Mills 318 


Young King 85, 167, 237, 295 

Young Men's Association 403 

Errata. On page 50, read lyjS, instead of 1858. On same page, read I7S9> 
instead of 1859. On page 54, read 176J, instead of 1863. On page 130, read Ams- 
dell, instead of Amsden. On page 184, read 1801, instead of iSio. 


The " Centennial History of Erie County" is now presented to the pub- 
lic, after fifteen months of continuous labor, three more than I expected 
to occupy. That there are defects in it is a matter of course — especially 
as this is my first historical effort. It is idle, however, to apologize — 
people never pay any attention to apologies — the book will probably go 
for what it is worth, and must take its chances among critics and readers. 

Had I known, however, the amount of labor involved, and the very 
poor pay to be obtained, it is doubtful whether I should have attempted 
the task. If any one thinks it easy to harmonize and arrange the im- 
mense number of facts and dates here treated of, let him try to learn 
the precise circumstances regarding a single event, occurring twenty 
years ago, and he will soon find how widely authorities differ. 

Doubtless, the most fault will be found by those who think that their 
grandfathers have not received due attention — but there was such a host 
of grandfathers. If I had even mentioned the tenth part of them, it 
would have turned the book into a mere list of names. There are two 
or three towns of which I have not made as frequent mention as I had 
intended, but this is partly because those towns have furnished no re- 
markable crimes, nor astonishing follies, to shock or amuse the reader. 

The principal object of this introduction is to give credit where 
credit is due. Nearly all the first hundred pages of my history, and 
much of the next hundred, are drawn from Turner's " Holland Purchase," 
Ketchuiti's " Buffalo and the Senecas," and Stone's " Life of Red 
Jacket." The still later matter relating to Red Jacket is, also, mostly 
from Mr. Stone's work. The story of the "White Woman " is abstracted 
from Seaver's biography, while W. P. Letchworth's memoir of the Pratt 
family furnishes many incidents of early times. 

The sketches of the Twenty-first, One Hundredth and One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth New York Volunteers are condensed from the his- 
tories of Mr. J. H. Mills, Major Stowits and Captain Clark. The 
record of the Forty-ninth is principally derived from Mr. G. D. Emer- 
son's published account. Mr. F. F. Fargo's " Memorial " has likewise 
been of much service, and I am indebted to Judge Sheldon, and 
Messrs. L. F. Allen and O. G. Steele, for valuable pamphlets ; and to 
Messrs. H. W. Rogers, of Michigan, and G. W. Johnson, of Niagara 
county, for interesting reminiscences. I am also under especial obliga- 
tions to my father, Mr. Wm. C. Johnson, for important assistance. 

To the Young Men's Association of Buffalo, I have to return thanks 
for the use of its files of early newspapers, and to the Historical Soci- 
ety, for similar privileges, not only as to its newspapers, but as to its 
vast number of pamphlets and manuscripts. I would also acknowledge 
the personal assistance, as well as aid from the libraries, of Messrs. 
G. R. Babcock and O. H. Marshall. 


But a great part of this history is derived from living lips. I would 
tender especial thanks for such aid to General William Warren, now of 
Orleans county, but for nearly seventy years a resident of Erie, whom 
I visited to consult, and whose memory of the stirring scenes in which 
he took an active part, is hardly dimmed by his ninety-one years of age. 
I would also cordially acknowledge the information received from the 
following ladies and gentlemen of the county — old settlers, their de- 
scendants, soldiers, and others — information embodied in some of the 
most interesting portions of the work before the reader : 

Mrs. A. S. Bemis, Mrs. A. C. Fox, Mrs. Dr. Lord, Col. Bird, Gen. 
Rogers, Gen. Scroggs, Col. Wiedrich, Rt. Rev. S. V. Ryan, Rev. Drs. 
Lord and Heacock, Wm. Hodge. F. W. Tracy, H. Wells, Dr. Dellen- 
baugh, E. C. Grey, J. Rieffenstahl and E. Besser, of Buffalo ; John 
Simpson and Urial Driggs, of Tonawanda ; T. A. Hopkins, J. F. Youngs, 
Christian Long and John Frick, of Amherst ; Mrs. Lavina Fillmore, 
David Vantine, Lindsay Hamlin, Abraham Shope and Col. Beaman, 
of Clarence ; Mrs. Lemuel Osborn, L. D. Covey, Mr. Wainwright and 
Wm. Denio, of Newstead ; T. and J. Farnsworth and Mr. Hendee, of 
Alden ; James Clark, of Lancaster ; Major Briggs, of Elma; G. W. Car- 
penter, of Marilla ; Seth Holmes, P. M. Hall, W. C. Russell and D. S. 
Warner, of Wales ; Mrs. Judge Paine, Oren Treat, Wm. Boies, John 
Darbee, Erasmus Adams and Horace Prentice of Aurora ; Mrs. Sarah 
Colvin, James Johnson, Wm. Austin, Thos. Thurber, Allen Pott,er and 
S. V. R. Graves of East Hamburg ; Israel Taylor, Abner Amsdell, A. 
C. Calkins, Dr. Geo. Abbott and Dr. S. H. Nott, of Hamburg ; Mrs. 
Judge Salisbury, Mrs. Root, Col. Ira Ayer, Dr. George Sweetland, 
Joseph Bennett, John Hutchinson and Lyman Oatman, of Evans ; 
Mrs. Ryther, Miss Warren, Russell, Roswell and John Hill, and 
Morris March, of Eden ; Truman Gary, Edward Hatch, Ambrose Tor- 
rey and V. R. Gary, of Boston ; Mrs. Sweet, Thomas Buffum and Asa 
Gould, of Golden ; Alvin Orr, B. F. Morey, Leander Cook, Peter Colby 
and M. L. Dickerman, of Holland ; Mrs. Gen. Nott, Mrs. Hastings, 
Clinton Colegrove, Mr. Rice, Hiram Crosby and Jonathan Matthewson, 
of Sardinia ; Eaton Bensley, R. C. Eaton, C. C. Smith, C. C. Sever- 
ance, Geo. Mayo, Byron. Cochran, Jeremiah Richardson and Rev. Mr. 
Wells, of Concord ; Mrs. Welch, Robert Arnold, Humphrey Smith, 
Isaac Hale, John Sherman and Geo. Wheeler, of North Collins: Ansel 
Smith, of Brant ; J. H. McMillan, Geo. Southwick, Augustus Smith, 
Caleb Taylor and Col. Cook, of Collins ; Mrs. Wright, B. F. Hall and 
N. H. Parker, of the Cattaraugus reservation. Three of the oldest 
and most prominent of those whom I consulted last year have since 
passed away from life — Dr. Emmons of Concord, James Wood of 
Wales, and Alex. Hitchcock of Cheektowaga. 

In many cases the information has been presented substantially as 
received ; in others, it has been so condensed and worked in with 
other matter as hardly to be recognized by those who gave it, but it 
is none the less necessary to the completion of a thorough history. 

C. J. 

East Aurora, N. Y., August 23d, 1876. 




Beginning of Erie County's History. — When it was named. — Its Boundaries. — Its 
Area.— The System pursued. 

The history of the county of Erie begins about the year 1620, 
when the first Europeans visited its vicinity. Before that time 
all is either tradition or inference. Afterwards, although the his- 
toric trace is often extremely faint, yet it is still to be seen, grow- 
ing gradually plainer for a hundred and eighty years, until in\ 
the beginning of the present century it swells into a broad andl 
beaten pathway, trodden by the feet of scores of surveyors, ©f 
hundreds of pioneers, of thousands of farmers, of tens of thou- 
sands of all classes, conditions and nationalities. 

But Erie county was not organized with its present name and 
boundaries until 1821. The larger and the more interesting part 
of its history had at that time already taken place. It is neces- 
sary, therefore, to point out that the subject of this work is the 
territory comprised within the present bounds of the county of 
Erie, together with the inhabitants of that territory, no matter 
whether the events recorded occurred before or after the begin- 
ning of the independent existence of the county. 

The county of Erie, in the State of New York, is situated be^ 
tween 42" 25' and 43° 6' of north latitude, and between i" 30' and 


2° 20' of longitude west from Washington. It is bounded north- 
erly by the center of Tonawanda creek and by the center of the 
east branch of Niagara river (between Grand Island and the 
mainland) from the mouth of the Tonawanda to the junction 
with the west branch; westerly by the line between the United 
States and Canada, from the junction up along the center of the 
west branch and of the whole river to Lake Erie, and thence 
southwesterly along the middle of the lake to a point where lihe 
international boundary makes a right angle with a line to the 
mouth of Cattaraugus creek ; southerly by a line from the point of 
intersection just mentioned to the mouth of the Cattaraugus, and 
thence up along the center of that creek to the crossing of 
the line between the fourth and fifth ranges of the Holland 
Company's survey ; and easterly by the line between those 
ranges, from the Cattaraugus to the Tonawanda, except that for 
six miles opposite the town of Marilla the county line is a mile 
and a quarter west of the range line. 

The range line is twenty-three miles east of the center of Ni- 
agara river at the foot of Lake Erie, and thirty-four and a half 
miles east of the mouth of Cattaraugus creek. The extreme 
length of the county north and south is forty-three and a half 
miles, and its greatest width, including the lake portion, is about 
thirty-nine miles. The land surface contains one thousand and 
seventy-one square miles. Besides this it embraces, as wo have 
seen, a considerable portion of Lake Erie, amounting as near as 
I can compute it to about a hundred and sixty square miles. 
This is not generally included in the county, but legally is as 
much a part of it as Tonawanda or Sardinia. The whole 
amounts to about twelve hundred and thirty square miles. 

I have been thus particular in designating the limits of the 
county in the beginning, in order to place the subject of this his- 
tory clearly before the reader. Whatever has existed or occur- 
red within those limits, or has been done by the residents of that 
territory, comes within the purview of this work, and if of suffi- 
cient consequence will be duly noticed. It will be necessary, 
also, to refer occasionally to outside matters, in order to eluci- 
date the history of the county and show the succession of events. 
Such extraneous references, however, will be very brief, and will 
be confined chiefly to a few of the earlier chapters. 


When " Erie county " is spoken of previous to the organiza- 
tion and naming of that county, it will be understood that the 
words are used to avoid circumlocution, and mean the territory 
now included within the boundaries of the county. So, too, for 
convenience, the territory now comprised in a town will some- 
times be mentioned by its present name, before any such town 
was in existence. 




Geology. — The Limestone Ledge.— The "Portage Group. "—Topography. — Level 
Land in the North. — Rolling Land in the Center. — Hills South of Center. — 
Fertile Lands in extreme South. — River and Lake. — Creeks. — Character of 
Forests. — Old Prairies. — The Animal Kingdom. — The Buffalo. 

Before narrating events, I will give a brief description of the 
theater on which those events occurred, and endeavor to answer 
the question : What manner of territory was it, the history of 
which began two hundred and twenty-six years ago .-" 

To begin at the foundation. It is known that beneath the 
surface accumulations of various kinds of soil the earth is 
divided into rocky strata, of widely different natures, to which 
various names have been given by scientific observers. These 
strata are usually more or less inclined upward, and in common 
parlance they " crop out " at the surface, one above the other, 
somewhat like a number of boards, which have stood on edge 
side by side, and have then fallen down. Lay the clapboarded 
side of a house flat on the ground, and it will give some idea of 
the manner in which the geological strata overlap each other ; 
only they run back under each other for an unknown distance, 
instead of merely far enough to drive a nail. 

The strata which come to or near the surface in Erie county 
incline upward to the north. They all belong to what is called 
by our State geologists the " New York system," the rocks being 
analogous to the Silurian and Devonian systems of European 
scientists. The lowest of the Erie county strata belongs to 
what is termed the "Onondaga salt group," and underlies all 
that part of the county north of the ledge described in the next 

Next above this comes the hydraulic (or water lime), Onondaga 
and corniferous limestones, which crop out in a ledge from thirty 
to sixty feet high, which extends in a direction somewhat north 
of east from Black Rock, in the city of Buffalo, through the south- 


ern part of the towns of Amherst, Clarence and Newstead, to 
the Genesee county line, and thence for a long distance eastward. 
In this stratum the water limestone and the common limestone 
are closely intermingled. 

Overlapping these limestones, what are called the Marcellus 
and Hamilton shales crop out in the central parts of the county, 
while still further south the rocks of the " Portage group " appear 
on the tops of the hills. The Portage stratum, like all the rest, 
dips to the southward, and in Pennsylvania forms the bottom of 
the vast coal basins of that State ; so that geologists declare 
that the whole of Erie County is too low in the geological sys- 
tem for any possible mines of that article. 

It is needless to observe that in 1620 geology was an unknown 
science, and even if the best educated of Europeans had found 
his way to the wilds of Erie county he would have understood 
naught of " strata," or " dips," or " Silurian systems." The 
other natural characteristics of the county would, however, 
have been visible to the naked eye, and the geological descrip- 
tion seemed a proper foundation for the rest. 

As to the topography, or configuration of the surface, of the 
county, it is extremely diversified. North of the limestone ledge 
it is almost a perfect level, and near the Tonawanda was origi- 
nally swampy. The soil is a deep alluvial loam, and the appear- 
ance of the country at the present time reminds the traveler of 
the broad, rich bottoms of western rivers. 

South of the ledge, for ten or twelve miles, the land, though 
more uneven than north of it, is not so much so as is usual east 
of the Alleganies, and in its cleared state bears a considerable 
resemblance to the upland prairies of the West. The soil is a 
clayey loam interspersed with gravel. 

A little farther south the surface becomes moderately broken 
and the soil gravelly. These are the characteristics of the cen- 
tral parts of the county. 

Still farther south the ground, except near the lake shore, 
begins to rise in hills, which at length attain a height of from 
seven to nine hundred feet above the lake. Between these hills 
run deep valleys, bearing northwestward toward the lake, and 
varying from a few rods to nearly a mile in width. The tops of 
the hills generally form level table-lands, covered with a stiff 


clayey soil, while a fertile alluvial loam is found in the valleys. 
Along the lake shore, however, and for several miles back, the 
land is as level and rich as in the northern portions of the 

As one passes from the table-lands just mentioned toward 
the northern boundary of the county, the surface descends, and a 
fertile, rolling territory again spreads out before him. Just before 
reaching Cattaraugus creek there is a range of steep declivities 
and rugged bluffs, now known as the " Cattaraugus breakers," 
which extend the whole width of the county. Below these is 
only a narrow flat, portions of which are often overflowed by the 
turbulent waters of the Cattaraugus. 

West of the northern part of this territory, the Niagara river 
runs in a very rapid current for a mile after it leaves Lake Erie, 
then subsides to a velocity of two and a half miles per hour, and 
divides into two streams about five miles below the lake, enclos- 
ing Grand Island, ten miles long and nearly as wide. Buckhorn 
Island, lying off the farthest point of Grand Island, continues 
the county's jurisdiction about a mile farther down, bringing it 
within three miles of the world-renowned cataract of Niagara. 

South of the head of the river, for six or seven miles, the nar- 
row foot of the lake crowds still farther eastward upon the land ; 
thence the shore trends away to the southwest, far beyond the 
limits of Erie county. 

Across the county run numerous creeks, the general course 
of all of them being westward or northwestward,- and all finally 
mingling their waters with Lake Erie or the Niagara river. 
Tonawanda creek, as has been said, is the northern boundary of 
the county. Its length, according to the general course of its val- 
ley and aside from its lesser windings, is near sixty miles, thirty 
of which it has run in Genesee county when it strikes the north- 
western corner of Erie. On its way to the Niagara, which it 
reaches opposite the middle of Grand Island, it receives Murder 
creek, a stream about ten miles long, some four miles from the 
Genesee county line ; Ransom creek, about fifteen miles long, 
empties some twelve miles farther down, and just above its 
mouth the Tonawanda is joined by EUicott or Eleven-Mile 
creek, which is not less than twenty-five miles in length. All, 
including the Tonawanda, head south of the limestone terrace. 


Murder creek breaking through it at the village of Akron, Ran- 
som's creek at Clarence Hollow, and Ellicott creek at Williams- 

Scajaquada creek enters the Niagara two miles below its exit 
from the lake, having flowed about fifteen miles in a westerly 

About a mile and a half above the head of the river the prin- 
cipal stream of the county flows into Lake Erie. This is Buf- 
falo creek, or Buffalo river as it is now called. It is composed 
of three branches. The main one, commonly called the Big Buf- 
falo, heads in Wyoming county, crosses into Erie after a course 
of a few miles, then runs northwestward about fifteen miles, and 
then westward fifteen or eighteen miles more to its mouth. Six 
miles from the lake it receives Cayuga creek from the north- 
east, that stream having followed a general westward course of 
about twenty miles. Two or three miles lower down it is joined 
on the other side by Cazenove creek, which heads in the extreme 
southeast corner of the county, and flows thirty miles northwest, 
receiving, about half-way down, the waters of the west branch, 
which have run in a generally northern direction for fifteen 

All these distances are merely approximate, and relate to the 
general course of the respective streams, and not to their minor 

Five miles south from the mouth of the Buffalo, Smoke's 
creek, a twelve-mile stream, enters the lake, and a mile or two 
farther up is Rush creek, which is still smaller. 

The north branch of the Eighteen-Mile creek heads near the 
south bounds of the county, not far from the head of the west 
branch of the Cazenove, runs northwesterly twelve miles, then 
nearly west about five miles, where it is joined by the south 
branch, a stream about twelve miles long, and then the whole 
flows five miles westerly, and enters the lake about eighteen 
miles from the mouth of the Buffalo. 

Eight miles above its mouth is that of the Big Sister, a 
stream some fifteen miles long. 

The Cattaraugus forms the southern boundary of the county 
for thirty miles, and it heads some ten miles east of the county 
line. Though it makes a considerable bend to the southward, its 


mouth is nearly due west of its head. Its tributaries in this 
county are all small, the largest being Clear creek, a twelve-mile 
stream, entering the Cattaraugus eight miles from its mouth. 
There are of course innumerable small streams, which cannot 
be mentioned in a mere cursory topographical sketch. 

Thus far the natural characteristics of Erie county are the 
same now that they were in 1620, and had been for unknown 
ages before, save that less water flows along the streams than 
when their banks were shaded by the primeval forests. Some 
new names have been applied by the white man, but in many 
cases even the names remain unchanged. 

The outward dress, however, of these hills and valleys is 
widely different from what it was two centuries and a half ago. 
In the southern part of the county the valleys were covered with 
beech and maple, the hills with oak and elm and occasional 
bodies of pine, and a little farther north with large quantities of 
hemlock. In the center the pine increased in quantity, the land 
on both sides of Buffalo creek and its branches being largely 
occupied by towering pines of the finest quality. It will be 
understood, of course, that these remarks refer only to the prin- 
cipal growths in the different sections, all the kinds of timber 
named being more or less intermingled, and numerous other 
kinds being found in smaller quantities. 

In the northern part of the county hardwood trees again 
predominated, the low grounds north of the limestone ledge be- 
ing thickly covered. Birch appeared in large quantities on the 

But the tract running east and west through the county, for 
some ten miles south of the limestone ledge, was the most pecu- 
liar. Here the timber was principally oak, but a great part of 
the territory consisted of openings, or prairies, entirely bare of 
trees. It is difficult to ascertain their original extent, but there 
is no doubt that when the country was first settled, seventy-five 
years ago, there were numerous prairies of from fifty acres 
apiece down to five. Taking this fact in connection with the 
accounts of early travelers, it is almost certain that their extent 
had been gradually decreasing, and that a hundred and fifty 
years earlier nearly the whole of the tract in question was an 
open prairie. 


This chapter may fitly be closed by a glance at the animals 
which originally inhabited the county of Erie, though possibly 
they ought to be described in the next one, under the head of 
" occupants." 

The deer strayed in great numbers through the forest and 
darted across the prairies. In the thickest retreats the gray 
wolf made his lair. The black bear often rolled his unwieldly 
form beneath the nut-bearing trees, and occasionally the wild 
scream of the panther, iiercest of American beasts, startled the 
Indian hunter into even more than his usual vigilance. The 
hedgehog and the raccoon were common, and squirrels of vari- 
ous kinds leaped gaily on the trees. To include the whole ani- 
mal kingdom, here the wild turkey and the partridge oft furnished 
food for the family of the red hunter, pigeons in enormous quan- 
tities yearly made their home within our boundaries, numerous 
smaller birds fluttered among the trees, the eagle occasionally 
swept overhead from his eyrie by the great cataract, and, besides 
some harmless varieties of reptiles, thousands of deadly rattle- 
snakes hissed and writhed among the rocks in the northern por- 
tion of the county. 

Of all these there is no question. But there -has been much 
dispute whether the lordliest of American beasts ever honored 
with his presence the localities which bear his name ; whether 
the buffalo ever drank from the waters of Buffalo creek, or 
rested on the site of Buffalo city. The question will be dis- 
cussed some chapters further on ; at present I will only say that 
judging from the prairie-like nature of a portion of the ground, 
from the fact that the animal in question certainly roamed over 
territory but a little way west of us, from the accounts of early 
travelers, from relics which have been discovered, and from the 
name which I believe the Indians bestowed on the principal 
stream of this vicinity, I have little doubt that the county of 
Erie was, in 1620, at least occasionally visited by the pride of 
the western plains, the unwieldly but majestic buffalo. 

For buffalo, not " bison," is now his true name, and by it he 
will invariably be called in this volume. If his name was ever 
bison, it has been changed by the sovereign people of America, 
(all names may be changed by the law-making power,) and it is 
but hbpeless pedantry to attempt to revive that appellation. 




Early Missionaries. — The Neuter Nation. — TheEries. — TheHurons. — The Iroquois. 
Former Occupants. — Fortifications. — Weapons. — Inferences. — The French in 
Canada. — The Puritans in New England. — The Dutch in New York. 

As was said in the beginning, it was about the year 1620 that 
the first knowledge of this region began to reach the ears of 
Europeans. In that year three French CathoHc missionaries 
came to instruct the Indians hving in Canada, northwestward 
of this locaHty. It does not appear that they visited the shores 
of the Niagara, but they obtained some information regarding 
the dwellers there, and that knowledge was eked out by the 
hardy French hunters and trappers who explored the shores of 
the great lakes in search of furs, preceding even the devoted 
missionaries of the Catholic faith. 

At that time the county of Erie was in the possession of a 
tribe of Indians whom the French called the Neuter Nation. 
Their Indian name was sometimes given as the Kahquahs and 
sometimes as the Attiwondaronks. The former is the one by 
which they are generally known. 

The French called them the Neuter Nation because they lived 
at peace with the fierce tribes which dwelt on either side of them. 
They were reported by their first European visitors to number 
twelve thousand souls. This, however, was doubtless a very 
great exaggeration, as that number was greater than was to be 
found among all the six nations of the Iroquois in the day of 
their greatest glory. It is a universal habit to exaggerate the 
numbers of barbarians, who cover much ground and make a 
large show in comparison with their real strength. 

They were undoubtedly, however, a large and powerful nation, 
as size and power were estimated among Indian tribes. Their 
villages lay on both sides of the Niagara, chiefly the western. 
There was also a Kahquah village near the mouth of Eighteen- 
Mile creek, and perhaps one or two others on the south shore of 
Lake Erie. 


The greater part, however, of that shore was occupied by the 
tribe from which the lake derives its name, the Eries. These 
were termed by the French the " Nation of the Cat," whence 
many have inferred that "Erie" means cat; the further inference 
being that the city of Buffalo is situated at the foot of Cat lake, 
and that this is the Centennial History of the County of Cat. 

The old accounts, however, rather tend to show that the name 
of " Cat " was applied by the French to both the tribe and the 
lake on their own responsibility, on account of the many wild- 
cats and panthers found in that locality. " Erie " may possibly 
mean wild-cat or panther, but I believe there is no authentic ac- 
count of a separate Indian nation calling themselves by the 
name of an animal. 

Northwest of the Neuter Nation dwelt the Algonquins or 
Hurons, reaching to the shores of the great lake which bears 
their name, while to the eastward was the home of those power- 
ful confederates whose fame has extended throughout the world, 
whose civil polity has been the wonder of sages, whose warlike 
achievements have compelled the admiration of soldiers, whose 
eloquence has thrilled the hearts of the most cultivated hearers, 
the brave, sagacious and far-dreaded Iroquois. They then 
consisted of but five nations, and their " Long House," as they 
themselves termed their confederacy, extended from east to 
west, through all the rich central portion of the present State 
of New York. The Mohawks were in the fertile valley of the 
Mohawk river ; the Oneidas, the most peaceful of the confeder- 
ates, were beside the lake, the name of which still keeps their 
memory green ; then as now the territory of the Onondagas 
was the gathering place of leaders, though State conventions 
have taken the place of the council fires which once blazed near 
the site of Syracuse ; the Cayugas kept guard over the beauti- 
ful lake which now bears their name, while westward from 
Seneca lake ranged the fierce, untamable Sonnonthouans, better 
known as Senecas, the warriors par excellence of the confederacy. 
Their villages reached westward to within thirty or forty miles 
of the Niagara, or to the vicinity of the present village of 

Deadly war prevailed between the Iroquois and the Hurons, 
and the hostility between the former and the Eries was scarcely 


less fervent. Betwixt these contending foemen the peaceful 
Kahquahs long maintained their neutrality, and the warriors of 
the East, of the Northwest and of the Southwest suppressed their 
. hatred for the time, as they met by the council fires of these 
aboriginal peace-makers. When first discovered, Erie county 
was the land of quiet, while tempests raged around. 

Like other Indian tribes, the Kahquahs guarded against sur- 
prise by placing their villages a short distance back from any 
navigable water ; in this case, from the Niagara river and Lake 
Erie. One of those villages was named Onguiaahra, after the 
mighty torrent which they designated by that name — a name 
which has since been shortened into Niagara. 

In dress, food and customs, the Kahquahs do not appear to 
have differed much from the other savages around them ; wear- 
ing the same scanty covering of skins, living principally on 
meat killed in the chase, but raising patches of Indian corn, 
beans and gourds. 

Such were the inhabitants of Erie county, and such their sur- 
roundings, at the beginning of its history. 

As for the still earlier occupants of the county, I shall dilate 
very little upon them, for there is really very little from which 
one can draw a reasonable inference. The Iroquois and the 
Hurons had been in New York and Canada for at least twenty 
years before the opening of this history, and probably for a hun- 
dred years more. Their earliest European visitors heard no 
story of their having recently migrated from other lands, and 
they certainly would have heard it had any such fact existed. 
The Kahquahs must also have been for a goodly time in this 
locality, or they could not have acquired the influence necessary 
to maintain their neutrality between such fierce neighbors. 

All or any of these tribes might have been on the ground 
they occupied in 1620 any time from a hundred to a thousand 
years, for all that can be learned from any reliable source. 
Much has been written of mounds, fortifications, bones, relics, 
etc., usually supposed to have belonged to some half-civilized 
people of gigantic size, who lived here before the Indians, but 
there is very little evidence to justify the supposition. 

It is true that numerous earthworks, evidently intended for 
fortifications, have been found in Erie county, as in other parts 


of Western New York, enclosing from two to ten acres each, 
and covered with forest trees, the concentric circles of which 
indicate an age of from two hundred to five hundred years, 
with other evidences of a still earlier growth. Some of these 
will be mentioned in describing the settlement of the various 
towns. They prove with reasonable certainty that there were 
human inhabitants here several hundred years ago, and that they 
found it necessary thus to defend themselves against their 
enemies, but it does not prove that they were of an essentially 
different race from the Indians who were discovered here by the 
earliest Europeans. 

It has been suggested that the Indians never built breast- 
works, and that these fortifications were beyond their patience 
and skill. But they certainly did build palisades, frequently re- 
quiring much labor and ingenuity. When the French first came 
to Montreal, they discovered an Indian town of fifty huts, which 
was encompassed by three lines of palisades some thirty feet 
high, with one well-secured entrance. On the inside was a ram- 
part of timber, ascended by ladders, and supplied with heaps of 
stones ready to cast at an enemy. 

Certainly, those who had the necessary patience, .skill and in- 
dustry to build such a work as that were quite capable of build- 
ing intrenchments of earth. In fact, one of the largest fortresses 
of Western New York, known as Fort Hill, in the town of Le 
Roy, Genesee county, contained, when first discovered, great 
piles of round stones, evidently intended for use against assail- 
ants, and showing about the same progress in the art of war as 
was evinced by the palisade-builders. 

True, the Iroquois, when first discovered, did not build forts of 
earth, but it is much more likely that they had abandoned them 
in the course of improvement for the more convenient palisade, 
than that a whole race of half-civilized men had disappeared 
from the country, leaving no other trace than these earthworks. 
Considering the light weapons then in vogue, the palisade was 
an improvement on the earthwork, offering equal resistance to 
missiles and much greater resistance to escalade. 

Men are apt to display a superfluity of wisdom in dealing 
with such problems, and to reject simple explanations merely 
because they are simple. The Indians were here when the 


country was discovered, and so were the earthworks, and I be- 
lieve the former constructed the latter. 

It has been claimed that human bones of gigantic size have 
been discovered, but when the evidence is sifted, and the con- 
stant tendency to exaggerate is taken into account, there will be 
found no reason to believe that they were relics of any other 
race than the American Indians. 

The numerous small axes or hatchets which have been found 
throughout Western New York were unquestionably of French 
origin, and so, too, doubtless, were the few other utensils of 
metal which have been discovered in this vicinity. 

On the whole, we may safely conclude that, while it is by no 
means impossible that some race altogether different from the 
Indians existed here before them, there is no good evidence that 
such was the case, and the strong probabilities are that if there 
was any such race it was inferior rather than superior to the 
people discovered here by the Europeans. 

The relations of this section of country to the European pow- 
ers was of a very indefinite description. James the First was 
on the throne of England, and Louis the Thirteenth was on 
that of France, with the great Richelieu as his prime minister. 

In 1 534, nearly a century before the opening of this history, 
and only forty-two years after the discovery of America, the 
French explorer, George Cartier, had sailed up the St. Law- 
rence to Montreal, and taken possession of all the country round 
about on behalf of King Francis the First, by the name of New 
France. He made some attempts at colonization, but in 1543 
they were all abandoned, and for more than half a century the 
disturbed condition of France prevented further progress in 

In 1603, the celebrated French mariner, Samuel Champlain, 
led an expedition to Quebec, made a permanent settlement 
there, and in fact founded the colony of Canada. From Que- 
bec and Montreal, which was soon after founded, communica- 
tion was comparatively easy along the course of the St. Law- 
rence and Lake Ontario, and even up Lake Erie after a por- 
tage around the Falls. Thus it was that the French fur-traders 
and missionaries reached the borders of Erie county far in ad- 
vance of any other explorers. 


In 1606, King James had granted to an association of English- 
men called the Plymouth Company the territory of New Eng- 
land, but no permanent settlement was made until the 9th day 
of November, 1620, when from the historic Mayflower the Pil- 
grim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock. The English settle- 
ments were expected to stretch westward to the Pacific or Great 
South Sea, and patents were granted to accommodate this lib- 
eral expansion. 

In 1609, the English navigator, Henry Hudson, while in the 
employ of the Dutch, had discovered the river which bears his 
name, and since then the latter people had established fortified 
trading posts at its mouth and at Albany, and had opened a 
commerce in furs. They, too, made an indefinite claim of ter- 
ritory westward. It will be understood that in speaking of "the 
Dutch " I do not refer to the Germans, sometimes mistakenly 
called by that name, but to the real Dutch, or people of Holland. 

All European nations at this time recognized the right of dis- 
covery as constituting a valid title to lands occupied only by 
scattered barbarians, but there were wide differences as to its ap- 
plication, and as to the amount of surrounding country which 
each discoverer could claim on behalf of his sovereign. 

Thus at the end of 1620 there were three distinct streams of 
emigration, with three attendant claims of sovereignty, converg- 
ing toward the county of Erie. Let but the French at Mon- 
treal, the English in Massachusetts, and the Dutch on the Hud- 
son all continue the work of colonization, following the great 
natural channels, and all would ultimately meet at the foot of 
Lake Erie. 

. For the time being the French had the best opportunity and 
the Dutch the next, while the English were apparently third in 
the race. 



FROM 1620 TO 1655. 

The French Traders.— Dutch Progress.— The Jesuits.— De la Roche Daillon.— The 
Company of a Hundred Partners. — Capture and Restoration of New France. 
— Chaumonot and Breboeuf. — Hunting Buffalo. — Destruction of the Kahquahs 
and Eries. — Seneca Tradition. — French Account. — Norman Hatchets. — 
Stoned-up Springs. 

For the first twenty years little occurred directly affecting the 
history of Erie county, though events were constantly happening 
which aided in shaping its destinies. We learn from casual re- 
marks of Catholic writers that the French traders traversed all 
this region in their search fdr furs, and even urged their light bat- 
teaux still farther up the lakes. 

In 1623, permanent Dutch emigration, as distinguished from 
mere fur-trading expeditions, first began upon the Hudson. 
The colony was named New Netherlands, and the first governor 
was sent thither by the Batavian Republic. 

In 1625, a few Jesuits arrived on the banks of the St. Law- 
rence, the advance guard of a host of representatives of that 
remarkable order, which was in time to crowd out almost all 
other Catholic missionaries from Canada and the whole lake re- 
gion, and substantially monopolize the ground themselves. 

In 1626, Father De la Roche Daillon, a Recollect missionary, 
visited the Neuter Nation, and passed the winter preaching the 
gospel among them. 

In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu organized the company of New 
France, otherwise known as the Company of a Hundred Part- 
ners. The three chief objects of this association were to extend 
the fur trade, to convert the Indians to Christianity, and to dis- 
cover a new route to China by way of the great lakes of North 
America. The company actually succeeded in extending the 
fur trade, but not in going to China by way of Lake Erie, and 
not to any great extent in converting the Indians. 

By the terms of their charter they were to transport six thou- 


sand emigrants to Canada and to furnish tliem with an ample 
supply of both priests and artisans. Champlain was made gov- 
ernor. His first two years' experience was bitter in the extreme. 
The British men-of-war captured his supplies by sea, the Iro- 
quois warriors tomahawked his hunters by land, and in 1629 an 
English fleet sailed up the St. Lawrence and captured Quebec. 
Soon afterward, however, peace was concluded, New France 
was restored to King Louis and Champlain resumed his guber- 
natorial powers. 

In 1628, Charles the First, of England, granted a charter for 
the government of the province of Massachusetts Bay. It in- 
cluded the territory between latitude 40°2' and 44"! S' north, ex- 
tending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, making a colony a hun- 
dred and fifty-four miles wide and four thousand miles long. 
The county of Erie was included within its limits, as was the 
rest of Western New York. 

The Jesuit missionaries, fired with unbounded zeal and unsur- 
passed valor, traversed the wilderness, holding up the cross be- 
fore the bewildered pagans. They naturally had much better 
success with the Hurons than with the Iroquois, whom Cham- 
plain had foolishly attacked on one of his earliest expeditions 
to America, and who afterwards remained the almost unvarying 
enemies of the French. 

The Jesuits soon had flourishing stations as far west as Lake 
Huron. One of these was St. Marie, near the eastern extrem- 
ity of that lake, and it was from St. Marie that Fathers Bt6- 
boeuf and Chaumonot set forth in November, 1840, to visit the 
Neuter Nation. They returned the next spring, having visited 
eighteen Kahquah villages, but having met with very little en- 
couragement among them. They reported the Neuter Indians 
to be stronger and finer-looking than other savages with whom 
they were acquainted. , 

In 1641, Father L'Allemant wrote to the Jesuit provincial in 
France, describing the expedition of Br^boeuf and Chaumonot, 
and one of his expressions goes far to settle the question 
whether the buffalo ever inhabited this part of the country. He 
says of the Neuter Nation, repeating the information just ob- 
tained from the two missionaries : " They are much employed 
in hunting deer, buffalo, wild-cats, wolves, beaver and other 



animals." There is no mention, however, of the missionaries 
crossing- the Niagara, and they probably did not, but the pres- 
ence of buffalo in the Canadian peninsula increases the likeli- 
hood of their sometimes visiting the banks of Buffalo creek. 

Up to this time the Kahquahs had succeeded in maintaining 
their neutrality between the fierce belligerents on either side, 
though the Jesuit missionaries reported them as being more 
friendly to the Iroquois than to the Hurons. What cause of 
quarrel, if any, arose between the peaceful possessors of Erie 
county and their whilom friends, the powerful confederates to 
the eastward, is entirely unknown, but sometime during the 
next fifteen years the Iroquois fell upon both the Kahquahs 
and the Eries and exterminated them, as nations, from the face 
of the earth. 

The precise years in which these events occurred are uncer- 
tain, nor is it known whether the Kahquahs or the Eries first felt 
the deadly anger of the Five Nations. French accounts favor 
the view that the Neuter Nation were first destroyed, while ac- 
cording to Seneca tradition the Kahquahs still dwelt here when 
the Iroquois annihilated the Eries. That tradition runs some- 
what as follows : 

The Eries had been jealous of the Iroquois from the time 
the latter formed their confederacy. About the time under 
consideration the Eries challenged their rivals to a grand game 
of ball, a hundred men on a side, for a heavy stake of furs and 
wampum. For two successive years the challenge was declined, 
but when it was again repeated it was accepted by the confed- 
erates, and their chosen hundred met their opponents near the 
site of the city of Buffalo. 

They defeated the Eries in ball playing, and then the latter 
proposed a foot-race between ten of the fleetest young men on 
each side. Again the Iroquois were victorious. Then the Kah- 
quahs, who resided near Eighteen-Mile creek, invited the contest- 
ants to their home. While there the chief of the Eries pro- 
posed a wrestling match between ten champions on each side, 
the victor in each match to have the privilege of knocking out 
his adversary's brains with his tomahawk. This challenge, too, 
was accepted, though, as the veracious Iroquois historians 
assert, with no intention of claiming the forfeit if successful. 


In the first bout the Iroquois champion threw his antagonist, 
but declined to play the part of executioner. The chief of the 
Eries, infuriated by his champion's defeat, himself struck the 
unfortunate wrestler dead, as he lay supine where the victor had 
flung him. Another and another of the Eries was in the same 
way conquered by the Iroquois, and in the same way dis- 
patched by his wrathful chief By this time the Eries were in a 
state of terrific excitement, and the leader of the confederates, 
fearing an outbreak, ordered his followers to take up their 
march toward home, which they did with no further collision. 

But the jealousy and hatred of the Eries was still more in- 
flamed by defeat, and they soon laid a plan to surprise, and if 
possible destroy, the Iroquois. A Seneca woman, who had mar- 
ried among the Eries but was then a widow, fled to her own 
people and gave notice of the attack. Runners were at once 
sent out, and all the Iroquois were assembled and led forth to 
meet the invaders. 

The two bodies met near Honeoye Lake, half-way between 
Canandaigua and the Genesee. After a terrible conflict the 
Eries were totally defeated, the flying remnants pursued to 
their homes by the victorious confederates, and the whole na- 
tion almost completely destroyed. It was five months before 
the Iroquois warriors returned from the deadly pursuit. 

Afterwards a powerful party of the descendants of the Eries 
came from the far west to attack the Iroquois, but were utterly 
defeated and slain to a man, near the site of Buffalo, their 
bodies burned, and the ashes buried in a mound, lately visible, 
near the old Indian church, on the Buff'alo Creek reservation. 

Such is the tradition. It is a very nice story — for the Iro- 
quois. It shows that their opponents were the aggressors 
throughout, that the young men of the Five Nations were inva- 
riably victorious in the athletic games, and that nothing but 
self-preservation induced them to destroy their enemies. 

Nothing, of course, can be learned from such a story regard- 
ing the merits of the war. It tends to show, however, that the 
final battle between the combatants was fought near the terri- 
tory of the Senecas, and that some at least of the Kahquahs 
were still living at the mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek at the time 
of the destruction of the Eries. 


On the other hand, scattered French accounts go to show that 
the Kahquahs were destroyed first; that they joined the Iroquois 
in warfare against the Hurons, but were unable to avert their 
own fate ; that collisions occurred between them and their allies 
of the Five Nations in 1647, and that open war broke out in 
1650, resulting in the speedy destruction of the Kahquahs. Also 
that the Iroquois then swooped down upon the Eries, and exter- 
minated them, about the year 1653. Some accounts make the 
destruction of the Neuter Nation as early as 1642. 

Amid these conflicting statements it is only certain that some 
time between 1640 and 1655 the fierce confederates of Central 
New York " put out the fires " of the Kahquahs and the Eries. 
It is said that a few of the former tribe were absorbed into 
the community of their conquerors, and it is quite likely that 
some of both nations escaped to the westward, and, wandering 
there, inspired the tribes of that region with their own fear and 
hatred of the terrible Iroquois. 

It is highly probable that the numerous iron hatchets which 
have been picked up in various parts of the county belonged to 
the unfortunate Kahquahs. They are undoubtedly of French 
manufacture, and similar instruments are used in Normandy to 
this day. Hundreds of them have been found in the valley of 
Cazenove creek and on the adjacent hills, a mile or two south of 
East Aurora village. Many more have been found in Hamburg, 
Boston and other parts of the county. 

They are all made on substantially the same pattern, the 
blade being three or four inches wide on the edge, running back 
and narrowing slightly for about six inches, when the eye is 
formed by beating the bit out thin, rolling it over and welding 
it. Each is marked with the same device, namely, three small 
circles something less than an inch in diameter, each divided into 
four compartments, like a wheel with four spokes. 

The Kahquahs were the only Indians who resided in Erie 
county while the French controlled the trade of this region, as 
the Senecas did not come here, at least in any numbers, until 
after the American Revolution. These hatchets would be con- 
venient articles to trade for furs, and were doubtless used for 
that purpose. It is hardly probable that the Indians would 
have thrown away such valuable instruments in the numbers 


which have since been found, except from compulsion, and the 
disaster which befell the Kahquahs at the hands of the Iroquois 
readily accounts for the abandonment of these weapons. 

Some copper instruments have also been found, doubtless of 
similar origin, and, what is harder to account for, several stoned- 
up springs. Mr. John S. Wilson informs me that some thirty 
years ago he pushed over a partly rotten tree, over a foot in diam- 
eter, on his farm two miles south of East Aurora, and directly 
under it found a spring, well stoned up. There is no reliable ac- 
count of Indians doing such work as that, and it is a fair suppo- 
sition that it was done by some of. the early French mission- 
aries or traders. 




Their System of Clans. — Its Imjjortance. — Its Probable Origin. — The Grand Coun- 
cil. — Sachems and War-chiefs. — Method of Descent.— Choice of Sachems. — 
Religion. — Natural Attributes. ^Family Relations. 

From the time of the destruction of the unfortunate Kah- 
quahs down to the time the Iroquois sold to the Holland Land 
Company, those confederates were by right of conquest the ac- 
tual possessors of the territory composing the present county 
of Erie, and a few years before making that sale the largest na- 
tion of the confederacy made their principal residence within 
the county. Within its borders, too, are still to be seen the 
largest united body of their descendants. 

For all these two hundred and twenty-five years the Iroquois 
have been closely identified with the history of Erie county, and 
the beginning of this community of record forms a proper point 
at which to introduce an account of the interior structure of that 
remarkable confederacy, at which we have before taken but an 
outside glance. ' 

It should be said here that the name " Iroquois " was never 
applied by the confederates to themselves. It was first used by 
the French, and, though said to have been formed from two In- 
dian words, its meaning is veiled in obscurity. The men of the 
Five Nations called themselves " Hedonosaunee," which means 
literally, "They form a cabin;" describing in this expressive 
manner the close union existing among them. The Indian 
name just quoted is more liberally and more commonly ren- 
dered, "The People of the Long House;" which is more fully 
descriptive of the confederacy, though not quite so accurate a 

The central and unique characteristic of the Iroquois league 
was not the mere fact of five separate tribes being confederated 
together; for such unions have been frequent among civilized 
and half-civilized peoples, though little known among the sav- 


ages of America. The feature that distinguished the People of 
the Long House from all the world beside, and which at the 
same time bound together all these ferocious warriors as with a 
living chain, was the system of clans, extending through all the 
different tribes. 

Although this clan-system has been treated of in many works, 
there are, doubtless, thousands of readers who have often heard 
of the warlike success and outward greatness of the Iroquois 
confederacy, but are unacquainted with the inner league which 
was its distinguishing characteristic, and without which it would 
in all probability have met, at an early day, with the fate of 
numerous similar alliances. 

The word " clan " has been adopted as the most convenient 
one to designate the peculiar artificial families about to be de- 
scribed, but the Iroquois clan was widely different from the 
Scottish one, all the members of which owed undivided allegi- 
ance to a single chief, for whom they were ready to fight against 
all the world. Yet " clan " is a much better word than " tribe," 
which is sometimes used, as that is the designation ordinarily 
applied to a separate Indian nation. 

The people of the Iroquois confederacy were divided into 
eight clans, or families, the names of which were as follows: 
Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle, Deer, Snipe, Heron and Hawk. 
Accounts differ, some declaring that every clan extended 
through all the tribes, and others that only the Wolf, Bear and 
Turtle clans did so, the rest being restricted to a lesser number 
of tribes. It is certain, however, that each tribe, Mohawks, 
Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas or Senecas, contained a part 
of the three clans named, and of several of the others. 

Each clan formed a large artificial family, modeled on the 
natural family. All the members of the clan, no matter how 
widely separated among the tribes, were considered as brothers 
and sisters to each other, and were forbidden to intermarry. 
This prohibition, too, was strictly enforced by public opinion. 

All the clan being thus taught from earliest infancy that they 
belonged to the same family, a bond of the strongest kind was 
created throughout the confederacy. The Oneida of the Wolf 
clan had. no sooner appeared among the Cayugas, than those of 
the same clan claimed him as their special guest, and admitted 


him to the most confidential intimacy. The Senecas of the 
Turtle clan might wander to the country of the Mohawks, at the 
farthest extremity of the Long House, and he had a claim upon 
his brother Turtles which they would not dream of repudiating. 

Thus the whole confederacy was linked together. If at any 
time there appeared a tendency toward conflict between the 
different tribes, it was instantly checked by the thought that; if 
persisted in, the hand of the Heron must be lifted against his 
brother Heron ; the hatchet of the Bear might be buried in 
the brain of his kinsman Bear. And so potent was the feeling 
that for at least two hundred years, and until the power of the 
league was broken by overwhelming outside force, there was no 
serious dissension between the tribes of the Iroquois. 

It is quite probable that this system of clans was an entirely 
artificial but most skillful device, and was the work of some soli- 
tary forest-statesman, the predominant genius of his age. It 
has little of the appearance of a gradual growth, as will be 
seen by noticing some of the circumstances. 

The names of the different nations of the confederacy, like 
those of other Indian tribes, have no uniformity of meaning, 
and were evidently adopted from time to time, as other names 
are adopted, from natural fitness. None of them were taken 
from any animal, and the adoption of the names of animals 
was never customary, so far as separate tribes of Indians were 
concerned. But the names of the clans are all taken from the 
animal creation — four beasts, three birds and a reptile ; and this 
uniformity at once suggests that they were all applied at the 
same time. The uniqueness of the clan-system, too, tends to 
show that it was an artificial invention, expressly intended to 
prevent dissension among the confederates. Nothing like it 
has ever grown up among any other people in the world. 

The Scotch, as has been said, had their clans, but these were 
merely the natural development of the original families. Al- 
though the members of each clan were all supposed to be more 
or less related, yet, instead of marriage being forbidden within 
their own limits, they rarely married outside of them. All the 
loyalty of the people was concentrated on their chief, and, in- 
stead of being bonds of union, so far as the nation at large was 
concerned, they were nurseries of faction. 


The Romans had their gens, but these, too, were merely nat- 
ural families increased by adoption, and, like the Scottish clans, 
instead of binding together dissevered sections, they served 
under the control of aspiring leaders as seed-plots of dissension 
and even of civil war. If one can imagine the Roman gens ex- 
tending through all the nations of the Grecian confederacy, he 
will have an idea of the Iroquois system, and had such been the 
fact it is more than probable that that confederacy would have 
survived the era of its actual downfall. 

Iroquois tradition ascribes the founding of the league to 
an Onondaga chieftain named Tadodahoh. Such traditions, 
however, are of very little value. A person of that name may 
•or may not have founded the confederacy. He may have been 
the originator of the clan-system, which appears much more 
like the work of a single genius than does the league of tribes. 
This latter is most likely to have begun with two or three weak 
tribes, and to have increased in the natural manner by the addi- 
tion of others. 

Whether the Hedonosaunee were originally superior in valor 
and eloquence to their neighbors cannot now be ascertained. 
Probably not. But their talent for practical statesmanship gave 
them the advantage in war, and success made them self-confi- 
dent and fearless. The business of the league was necessarily 
transacted in a congress of sachems, and this fostered oratorical 
powers, until at length the Iroquois were famous among a hun- 
dred rival nations for wisdom, courage and eloquence, and were 
justly denominated by Volney, "The Romans of the New 

Aside from the clan-system just described, which was entirely 
unique, the Iroquois league had some resemblance to the great 
American Union which succeeded and overwhelmed it. The 
central authority was supreme on questions of peace and war, 
and on all others relating to the general welfare of the confeder- 
acy, while the tribes, like the States, reserved to themselves the 
management of their ordinary affairs. 

In peace all power was confided to " sachems ; " in war, to 
" chiefs." The sachems of each tribe acted as its rulers in the 
few matters which required the exercise of civil authority. 
These same rulers also met in congress to direct the affairs 


of the confederacy. There were fifty in all, of whom the Mo- 
hawks had nine, the Oneidas nine, the Onondagas fourteen, the 
Cayugas ten, and the Senecas eight. These numbers, however, 
did not give proportionate power in the congress of the league, 
for all the nations were equal there. 

There was in each tribe the same number of war-chiefs as sa- 
chems, and these had absolute authority in time of war. When 
a council assembled, each sachem had a war-chief standing be- 
hind him to execute his orders. But in a war party the war- 
chief commanded and the sachem took his place in the ranks. 
This was the system in its simplicity. 

Some time after the arrival of the Europeans they seem to 
have fallen into the habit of electing chiefs — not war-chiefs — as " 
counselors to the sachems, who in time acquired equality of 
power with them, and were considered as their equals by the 
whites in the making of treaties. 

It is difficult to learn the truth regarding a political and so- 
cial system which was not preserved by any written record. As 
near, however, as can be ascertained, the Onondagas had a cer- 
tain preeminence in the councils of the league, at least to the 
extent of always furnishing a grand sachem, whose authority, 
however, was of a very shadowy description. It is not certain 
that he even presided in the congress of sachems. That con- 
gress, however, always met at the council-fire of the Onondagas. 
This was the natural result of their central position, the Mo- 
hawks and Oneidas being to the east of them, the Cayugas and 
Senecas to the west. 

The Senecas were unquestionably the most powerful of all 
the tribes, and, as they were located at the western extremity of 
the confederacy, they had to bear the brunt of war when it was 
a.ssailed by its most formidable foes, who dwelt in that quarter. 
It would naturally follow that the principal war-chief of the 
league should be of the Seneca Nation, and such is said to have 
been the case, though over this, too, hangs a shade of doubt. 

As among many other savage tribes, the right of heirship 
was in the female line. A man's heirs were his brother (that is 
to say, his mother's son) and his sister's son ; never his own son, 
nor his brother's son. The few articles which constituted an 
Indian's personal property, even his bow and tomahawk, never 


descended to the son of him who had wielded them. Titles, 
so far as they were hereditary at all, followed the same law of 
descent. The child also followed the clan and tribe of the 
mother. The object was evidently to secure greater certainty 
that the heir would be of the blood of his deceased kinsman. 
It is not supposed to require near as wise a boy to know his 
mother as his father. 

The result of the application of this rule to the Iroquois sys- 
tem of clans was that if a particular sachemship or chieftaincy 
was once established in a certain clan of a certain tribe, in that 
clan and tribe it was expected to remain forever. Exactly how 
it was filled when it became vacant is a matter of some doubt, 
but as near as can be learned it was done by the warriors of the 
clan, and then the person so chosen was " raised up " by the 
congress of sachems. 

If, for instance, a sachemship belonging to the Wolf clan of 
the Seneca tribe became vacant, it could only be filled by some 
one of the Wolf clan of the Seneca tribe. A clan-council was 
called, and as a general rule the heir of the deceased was chosen 
to his place; to wit, one of his brothers, or one of his sister's sons, 
or even some mOre distant relative on the mother's side. But 
there was no positive law, and the warriors might discard all 
these and elect some one entirely unconnected with the deceased. 
A grand council of the confederacy was then called, at which 
the new sachem was formally " raised up," or as we should say, 
" inaugurated " in his ofiice. 

While there was no unchangeable custom compelling the clan- 
council to select one of the heirs of the deceased as his succes- 
sor, yet the tendency was so strong in that direction that an 
infant was frequently selected, a guardian being appointed to 
perform the functions of the office till the youth should reach 
the proper age to do so. 

Notwithstanding the modified system of hereditary power in 
vogue, the constitution of every tribe was essentially republican. 
Warriors, old men, and even women, attended the council, and 
made their influence felt. Neither in the government of the 
confederacy nor of the tribes was there any such thing as tyr- 
anny over the people, though there was plenty of tyranny by 
the league over conquered nations. 


In fact there was very little government of any kind, and very 
little need of any. There were substantially no property inter- 
ests to guard, all land being in common, and each man's per- 
sonal property being limited to a bow, a tomahawk and a few 
deer skins. Liquor had not yet lent its disturbing influence, 
and few quarrels were to be traced to the influence of woman, 
for the American Indian is singularly free from the warmer pas- 
sions. His principal vice is an easily-aroused and unlimited 
hatred, but the tribes were so small and enemies so convenient, 
that there was no difficulty in gratifying this feeling outside 
his own nation. The consequence was that the war-parties 
of the Iroquois were continually shedding the blood of their 
foes, but there was very little quarreling at home. 

They do not appear to have had any class especially set apart 
for religious services, and their religious creed was limited to a 
somewhat vague belief in the existence of a " Great Spirit," and 
several inferior but very potent evil spirits. They had a few 
simple ceremonies, consisting largely of dances, one called the 
" green corn dance," performed at the time indicated by its name, 
and others at other seasons of the year. From a very early date 
their most important religious ceremony has been the " burning 
of the white dog," when an unfortunate canine of the requisite 
color is sacrificed by one of the chiefs. To this day the pagans 
among them still perform this rite. 

Aside from their political wisdom, and the valor and eloquence 
developed by it, the Iroquois were not greatly different from the 
other Indians of North America. In common with their fellow- 
savages they have been termed "fast friends and bitter enemies." 
They were a great deal stronger enemies than friends. Revenge 
was the ruling passion of their nature, and cruelty was their 
abiding characteristic. Revenge and cruelty are the worst at- 
tributes of human nature, and it is idle to talk of the goodness 
of men who roasted their captives at the stake. All Indians 
were faithful to their own tribes, and the Iroquois were faithful 
to their confederacy, but outside these limits their friendship 
could not be counted on, and treachery was always to be appre- 
hended in dealing with them. 

In their family relations they were not harsh to their children, 
and not wantonly so to their wives, but the men were invariably 


indolent, and all labor was contemptuously abandoned to the 
weaker sex. They were not an amorous race, but could hardly 
be called a moral one. They were in that respect merely apa- 
thetic. Their passions rarely led them into adultery, and mer- 
cenary prostitution was entirely unknown, but they were not 
sensitive on the question of purity, and readily permitted their 
maidens to form the most fleeting alliances with distinguished 

Polygamy, too, was practiced, though in what might be called 
moderation. Chiefs and eminent warriors usually had two or 
three wives ; rarely more. They could be divorced at will by 
their lords, but the latter seldom availed themselves of their 

These latter characteristics the Iroquois had in common with 
the other Indians of North America, but their wonderful politico- 
social league and their extraordinary success in war were the 
especial attributes of the People of the Long House, for a hun- 
dred and thirty years the masters, and for more than two cen- 
turies the occupants, of the county of Erie. 



FROM 1655 TO 1679. 

The Iroquois triumphant.— Obliteration of Dutch Power.— French Progress.— La 
Salle visits the Senecas.— Greenhalph's Estimates.— La Salle on the Niagara. 
— Building of the Griffin. — It enters Lake Erie. — La Salle's Subsequent Ca- 
reer. — The Prospect in 1679. 

From the time of the destruction of the Kahquahs and Erics 
the Iroquois lords of Erie county went forth conquering and to 
conquer. This was probably the day of their greatest glory. 
Stimulated but not yet crushed by contact with the white man, 
they stayed the progress of the French into their territories, 
they negotiated on equal terms with the Dutch and English, and, 
having suppHed themselves with the terrible arms of the pale- 
faces, they smote with direst vengeance whomsoever of their own 
race were so unfortunate as to provoke their wrath. 

On the Susquehanna, on the Allegany, on the Ohio, even to 
the Mississippi in the west and the Savannah in the south, the 
Iroquois bore their conquering arms, filling with terror the dwell- 
ers alike on the plains of Illinois and in the glades of Carolina. 
They strode over the bones of the slaughtered Kahquahs to new 
conquests on the great lakes beyond, even to the foaming cas- 
cades of Michillimacinac, and the shores of the mighty Supe- 
rior. They inflicted such terrible defeat upon the Hurons, des- 
pite the alliance of the latter with the French, that many of the 
conquered nation sought safety on the frozen borders of Hud- 
son's Bay. In short, they triumphed on every side, save only 
where the white man came, and even the white man was for a 
time held at bay by these fierce confederates. 

Of the three rivals, the French and Dutch opened a great fur- 
trade with the Indians, while the New Englanders devoted them- 
selves principally to agriculture. In 1664, the English conquered 
New Amsterdam, and in 1670 their conquest was made perma- 
nent. Thus the three competitors for empire were reduced to 
two. The Dutch Lepidus of the triumvirate was gotten rid of. 


and henceforth the contest was to be between the Anglo-Saxon 
Octavius and the Gallic Antony. 

Charles the Second, then King of England, granted the con- 
quered province to his brother James, Duke of York, from whom 
it was called New York. This grant comprised all the lands 
along the Hudson, with an indefinite amount westward, thus 
overlapping the previous grant of James the First to the Ply- 
mouth Company, and the boundaries of Massachusetts by the 
charter of Charles the First, and laying the foundation for a con- 
flict of jurisdiction which was afterwards to have important 
effects on the destinies of Western New York. 

The French, if poor farmers, were indefatigable fur-traders 
and missionaries ; but their priests and fur-buyers mostly pur- 
sued a route north of this locality, for here the fierce Senecas 
guarded the shores of the Niagara, and they like all the rest of 
the Iroquois were ever unfriendly, if not actively hostile, to the 
French. By 1665, trading-posts had been established at Mich- 
illimacinac, Green Bay, Chicago and St. Joseph, but the route 
past the falls of Niagara was seldom traversed, and then only by 
the most adventurous of the French traders, the most devoted 
of the Catholic missionaries. 

But a new era was approaching. Louis the Fourteenth was 
king of France, and his great minister, Colbert, was anxious to 
extend the power of his royal master over the unknown regions 
of North America. In 1669, La Salle, whose name was soon 
to be indissolubly united to the annals of Erie county, visited 
the Senecas with only two companions, finding their four princi- 
pal villages from ten to twenty miles southerly from Rochester, 
scattered over portions of the present counties of Monroe, 
Livingston and Ontario. 

In 1673, the missionaries Marquette and Joliet pushed on 
beyond the farthest French posts, and erected the emblem of 
Christian salvation on the shore of the Father of Waters. 

In 1677, Wentworth Greenhalph, an Englishman, visited all 
the Five Nations, finding the same four towns of the Senecas 
described by the companions of La Salle. Greenhalph made 
very minute observations, counting the houses of the Indians, 
and reported the Mohawks as having three hundred warriors, 
the Oneidas two hundred, the Onondagas three hundred and 


fifty, the Cayugas three hundred, and the Senecas a thousand. 
It will be seen that the Senecas, the guardians of the western 
door of the Long House, numbered, according to Greenhalph's 
computation,- nearly as many as all the other tribes of the con- 
federacy combined, and other accounts show that he was not 
far from correct. 

In the month of January, 1679, there arrived at the mouth of 
the Niagara Robert Cavalier de La Salle, a Frenchman of 
good family, thirty-five years of age, and one of the most gal- 
lant, devoted and adventurous of all the bold explorers who 
under many different banners opened the new world to the 
knowledge of the old. Leaving his native Rouen at the age of 
twenty-two, he had ever since been leading a life of adventure 
in America, having in 1669, as already mentioned, penetrated 
almost alone to the strongholds of the Senecas. In 1678, he 
had received from King Louis, a commission to discover the 
western part of New France. He was authorized to build such 
forts as might be necessary, but at his own expense, being 
granted certain privileges in return, the principal of which 
appears to have been the right to trade in buff'alo skins. The 
same year he had made some preparations, and in the fall had 
sent the Sieur de La Motte and Father Hennepin (the priest 
and historian of his expedition) in advance, to the mouth of the 
Niagara. La Motte soon returned. 

As soon as La Salle arrived, he went two leagues above the 
Falls, built a rude dock, and laid the keel of a vessel with which 
to navigate the upper lakes. Strangely enough Hennepin does 
not state on which bank of the Niagara this dock was situated, 
but it is deemed certain by those who have examined the ques- 
tion, especially by O. H. Marshall, Esq., the best authority in 
the county on matters of early local history, that it was on the 
east side, at the mouth of Cayuga creek, in Niagara county, and 
in accordance with that view the little village which has been 
laid out there has received the appellation of " La Salle." 

Hennepin distinctly mentions a small village of Senecas 
situated at the mouth of the Niagara, and it is plain from his 
whole narrative that the Iroquois were in possession of the 
entire country along the river, and watched the movement with 
unceasing jealousy. 


The work was carried on through the winter, two Indians of 
the Wolf clan of the Senecas being employed to hunt deer for 
the French party, and in the spring the vessel was launched, 
" after having," in the words of Father Hennepin, "-been blessed 
according to the rites of our Church of Rome." The new ship 
was named " Le Griffon " (The Griffin) in compliment to the 
Count de Frontenac, minister of the French colonies, whose 
coat of arms was ornamented with representations of that 
mythical beast. 

For several months the Griffin remained in the Niagara,, 
between the place where it was built and the rapids at the head, 
of the river. Meanwhile Father Hennepin returned to Fort 
Frontenac (now Kingston) and obtained two priestly assistants,, 
and La Salle superintended the removal of the armament and 
stores from below the Falls. 

When all was ready the attempt was made, and several times 
repeated, to ascend the rapids above Black Rock, but without 
success. At length, on the seventh day of August, 1679, a 
favorable wind sprung up from the northeast, all the Griffin's 
sails were set, and again it approached the troublesome rapids. 

It was a dimunitive vessel compared with the leviathans of 
the deep which now navigate these inland seas, but was a mar- 
vel in view of the difficulties under which it had been built. It 
was of sixty tons burthen, completely furnished with anchors 
and other equipments, and armed with seven small cannon, all 
of which had been transported by hand around the cataract. 

There were thirty-four men on board the Griffin, all French- 
men with a single exception. 

There was the intrepid La Salle, a blue-eyed, fair-faced, ring- 
leted cavalier, a man fitted to grace the salons of Paris, yet. now 
eagerly pressing forward to dare the hardships of unknown seas 
and savage lands. A born leader of men, a heroic subduer of 
nature, the gallant Frenchman for a brief time passes along the 
border of our county, and then disappears in the western wilds 
where he was eventually to find a grave. 

There was Tonti, the solitary alien amid that Gallic band, 
exiled by revolution from his native Italy, who had been chosen 
by La Salle as second in command, and who justified the choice 
by his unswerving courage and devoted loyalty. There, too, was 



Father Hennepin, the earHest historian of these regions, one of 
the most zealous of all the zealous band of Catholic priests who, 
at that period, undauntedly bore the cross amid the fiercest pa- 
gans in America. Attired in priestly robes, having with him his 
movable chapel, and attended by his two coadjutors. Father Hen- 
nepin was ready at any time to perform the rites of his Church, 
or to share the severest hardships of his comrades. 

As the little vessel approached the rapids a dozen stalwart 
sailors were sent ashore with a tow-line, and aided with all their 
strength the breeze which blew from the north. Meanwhile a 
crowd of Iroquois warriors had assembled on the shore, together 
with many captives whom they had brought from the distant 
prairies of the West. These watched eagerly the efforts of the 
pale-faces, with half-admiring and half-jealous eyes. 

Those efforts were soon successful. By the aid of sails and 
tow-line the Griffin surmounted the rapids, all the crew went on 
board, and the pioneer vessel of these waters swept out on to 
the bosom of Lake Erie. As it did so the priests led in sing- 
ing a joyous Te Deum, all the cannon and arquebuses were fired 
in a grand salute, and even the stoical sons of the forest, watch- 
ing from the shore, gave evidence of their admiration by repeated 
cries of " Gannoron ! Gannoron ! " Wonderful ! Wonderful ! 

This was the beginning of the commerce of the upper lakes, 
and like many another first venture it resulted only in disaster 
to its projectors, though the harbinger of unbounded success by 
others. The Griffin went to Green Bay, where La Salle and 
Hennepin left it, started on its return with a cargo of furs, and 
was never heard of more. It is supposed that it sank in a storm 
and that all on board perished. 

La Salle was not afterwards identified with the history of Erie 
county, but his chivalric achievements and tragic fate have still 
such power to stir the pulse and enlist the feelings that one can 
hardly refrain from a brief mention of his subsequent career. 
After the Griffin had sailed, La Salle and Hennepin went in 
canoes to the head of Lake Michigan. Thence, after building a 
trading-post and waiting many weary months for the return of 
. his vessel, he went with thirty followers to Lake Peoria on the 
Illinois, where he built a fort and gave it the expressive name 
of " Creve Coeur" — Broken Heart. But notwithstanding this 

LA Salle's subsequent career. 43 

expression of despair his courage was far from exhausted, and, 
after sending Hennepin to explore the Mississippi, he with three 
comrades performed the remarkable feat of returning to Fort 
Frontenac on foot, depending on their guns for support. 

From Fort Frontenac he returned to Creve Cceur, the garri- 
son of which had in the meantime been driven away by the In- 
dians. Again the indomitable La Salle gathered his followers, 
and in the fore part of 1682 descended the Mississippi to the sea, 
being the first European to explore any considerable portion of 
that mighty stream. He took possession of the country in the 
name of King Louis the Fourteenth, and called it Louisiana. 

Returning to France he astonished and gratified the court with 
the story of his discoveries, and in 1684 was furnished with a 
fleet and several hundred men to colonize the new domain. 
Then every thing went wrong. The fleet, through the blunders 
of its naval commander, went to Matagorda bay, in Texas. The 
store-ship was wrecked, the fleet returned, La Salle failed in an 
attempt to find the mouth of the Mississippi, his colony dwin- 
dled away through desertion and death to forty men, and at 
length he started with sixteen of these, on foot, to return to Can- 
ada for assistance. Even in this little band there were those that 
hated him, (possibly he was a man of somewhat imperious na- 
ture,) and ere he had reached the Sabine he was murdered by 
two of his followers, and left unburied upon the prairie. 

A lofty, if somewhat haughty spirit, France knows him as the 
man who added Louisiana and Texas to her empire, the Missis- 
sippi Valley reveres him as the first explorer of its great river, 
but by the citizens of this county he will best be remembered as 
the pioneer navigator of Lake Erie. 

The adventurous Frenchman doubtless supposed, when he 
steered the Griffin into that vast inland sea, that he was opening 
it solely to French commerce, and was preparing its shores for 
French occupancy. He had ample reason for the supposition. 
Communication with the French in Lower Canada was much 
easier than with the Anglo-Dutch province on the Hudson, and 
thus far the opportunities of the former had been diligently im- 

Had La Salle then climbed the bluff which overlooks the 
transformation of the mighty Erie into the rushing Niagara, 

44 THE PROSPECT IN 1 679. 

and attempted to foretell the destiny of lake and land for the 
next two centuries, he would without doubt, and with good 
reason, have mentally given the dominion of both land and lake 
to the sovereigns of France. He would have seen in his mind's 
eye the plains that extended eastward dotted with the cottages 
of French peasants, while here and there among them towered 
the proud mansions of their baronial masters. He would have 
imagined the lake white with the sails of hundreds of vessels 
flying the flag of Gallic kings, and bearing the products of their 
subjects from still remoter regions, and he would perchance have 
pictured at his feet a splendid city, reproducing the tall gables 
of Rouen and the elegant facades of Paris, its streets gay with 
the vivacious language of France, its cross-capped churches shel- 
tering only the stately ceremonies of Rome. 

But a far different destiny was in store for our county, due 
partly to the chances of war, and partly to the subtle character- 
istics of race, which make of the Gaul a good explorer but a 
bad colonizer, while the Anglo-Saxon is ever ready to identify 
himself with the land to which he may roam. 



A Slight Ascendency.— De Nonville's Assault.— Origin of Fort Niagara.— La Hon- 
tan's Expedition. — The Peace of Ryswick. — Queen Anne's War.— The Iro- 
quois Neutral. — The Tuscaroras. — ^Joncaire. — Fort Niagara Rebuilt. — French 
Power Increasing.— Successive Wars.— The Line of Posts.— The Final 
Struggle.— The Expedition of D'Aubrey.— The Result.— The Surrender of 

For the next forty-five years after the adventures of La Salle, 
the French maintained a general but not very substantial ascen- 
dency in this region. Their voyageurs traded and their mis- 
sionaries labored here, and their soldiers sometimes made incur- 
sions, but they had no permanent fortress this side of Fort 
Frontenac (Kingston) and they were constantly in danger from 
their enemies, the Hedonosaunee. 

In 1687, the Marquis de Nonville, governor of New France, 
arrived at Irondiquoit bay, a few miles east of Rochester, with 
nearly two thousand Frenchmen and some five hundred Indian 
allies, and marched at once against the Seneca villages, situated 
as has been stated in the vicinity of Victor and Avon. The 
Senecas attacked him on his way, and were defeated, as well 
they might be, considering that the largest estimate gives them 
but eight hundred warriors, the rest of the confederates not hav- 
ing arrived. 

The Senecas burned their villages and fled to the Cayugas. 
De Nonville destroyed their stores of corn and retired, after 
going through the form of taking possession of the country. 
The supplies thus destroyed were immediately replenished by 
the other confederates, and De Nonville accomplished little ex- 
cept still further to enrage the Iroquois. The Senecas, however, 
determined to seek a home less accessible from the waters of 
Lake Ontario, and accordingly located their principal villages 
at Geneva, and on the Genesee above Avon. 

De Nonville then sailed to the mouth of the Niagara, where 


he erected a small fort on the east side of the river. This was 
the origin of Fort Niagara, one of the most celebrated strong- 
holds in America, and which, though a while abandoned, was 
afterwards for a long time considered the key of Western New 

From the new fortress De Nonville sent the Baron La Hon- 
tan, with a small detachment of French, to escort the Indian 
allies to their western homes. They made the necessary port- 
age around the Falls, rowed up the Niagara to Buffalo, and 
thence coasted along the northern shore of the lake in their 
canoes. All along up the river they were closely watched by 
the enraged Iroquois, but were too strong and too vigilant to 
permit an attack. 

Ere long the governor returned to Montreal, leaving a small 
garrison at Fort Niagara. These suifered so severely from sick- 
ness that the fort was soon abandoned, and it does not appear 
to have been again occupied for nearly forty years. 

In fact, at this period the fortunes of France in North America 
were brought very low. The Iroquois ravaged a part of the 
island of Montreal, compelled the abandonment of Forts 
Frontenac and Niagara, and alone proved almost sufficient to 
overthrow the French dominion in Canada. 

The English revolution of 1688, by which James the Second 
was driven from the throne, was speedily followed by open war 
with France. In 1689, the Count de Frontenac, the same ener- 
getic old peer who had encouraged La Salle in his brilliant dis- 
coveries, and whose name was for a while borne by Lake Ontario, 
was sent out as governor of New France. This vigorous but 
cruel leader partially retrieved the desperate condition of the 
French colony. He, too, invaded the Iroquois, but accom- 
plished no more than De Nonville. 

The war continued with varying fortunes until 1697, the Five 
Nations being all that while the friends of the English, and 
most of the time engaged in active hostilities against the French. 
Their authority over the whole west bank of the Niagara, and 
far up the south side of Lake Erie, was unbroken, save when a 
detachment of French troops was actually marching along the 

At the treaty of Ryswick in 1797, while the ownership of 


Other lands was definitely conceded to France and England 
respectively, that of Western New York was left undecided. 
The English claimed sovereignty over all the lands of the Five 
Nations, the French with equal energy asserted the authority 
of King Louis, while the Hedonosaunee themselves, whenever 
they heard of the controversy, repudiated alike the pretensions of 
Yonnondio and Corlear, as they denominated the governors 
respectively of Canada and New York. 

So far as Erie county was concerned, they could base their 
claim on the good old plea that they had killed all its previous 
occupants, and as neither the English nor French had succeeded 
in killing the Iroquois, the title of the latter still held good. In 
legal language they were " in possession," and " adverse posses- 
sion " at that. 

Scarcely had the echoes of battle died away after the peace 
of Ryswick, when, in 1702, the rival nations plunged into the 
long conflict known as " Queen Anne's War." But by this time 
the Iroquois had grown wiser, and prudently maintained their 
neutrality, commanding the respect of both French and English. 
The former were wary of again provoking the powerful con- 
federates, and the government of the colony of New York was 
very willing that the Five Nations should remain neutral, as 
they thus furnished a shield against French and Indian attacks 
for the whole frontier of the colony. 

But, meanwhile, through all the western country the French 
extended their influence. Detroit was founded in 170X. Other 
posts were established far and wide. Nothwithstanding their 
alliance with the Hurons and other foes of the Iroquois, and 
notwithstanding the enmity aroused by the invasions of Cham- 
plain, De Nonville and Frontenac, such was the subtle skill of 
the French that they rapidly acquired a strong influence among 
the western tribes of the confederacy, especially the Senecas. 
Even the wonderful socio-political system of the Hedonosaunee 
weakened under the influence of European intrigue, and while 
the Eastern Iroquois, though preserving their neutrality, were 
friendly to the English, the Senecas, and perhaps the Cayugas, 
were almost ready to take up arms for the French. 

About 1712, an important event occurred in the history of 
the Hedonosaunee. The Five Nations became the Six Nations. 


The Tuscaroras, a powerful tribe of North Carolina, had become 
involved in a war with the whites, originating as usual in a dis- 
pute about land. The colonists being aided by several other 
tribes, the Tuscaroras were soon defeated, many of them killed, 
and many others captured and sold as slaves. The greater part 
of the remainder fled northward to the Iroquois, who immedi- 
ately adopted them as one of the tribes of the confederacy, 
assigning them a seat near the Oneidas. The readiness of those 
haughty warriors to extend the valuable shelter of the Long 
House over a band of fleeing exiles is probably due to the fact 
that they had been the allies of the Iroquois against other South- 
ern Indians, which would also account for the eagerness of the 
latter to join the whites in the overthrow of the Tuscaroras. 

Not long after this, one Chabert Joncaire,. a Frenchman who 
had been captured in youth by the Senecas, who had been 
adopted into their tribe and had married a Seneca wife, but who 
had been released at the treaty of peace, was employed by the 
French authorities to promote their influence among the Iro- 
quois. Pleading his claims as an adopted child of the nation, 
he was allowed by the Seneca chiefs to build a cabin on the site 
of Lewiston, which soon became a center of French influence. 

All the efforts of the English were impotent either to dislodge 
him or to obtain a similar privilege for any of their own people. 
"Joncaire is a child of the nation," was the sole reply vouch- 
safed to every complaint. Though Fort Niagara was for the 
time abandoned, and no regular fort was built at Lewiston, yet 
Joncaire's trading-post embraced a considerable group of cabins, 
and at least a part of the time a detachment of French soldiers 
was stationed there. Thus the active Gauls kept up communi- 
cation with their posts in the West, and maintained at least a 
slight ascendency over the territory which is the subject of this 

About 1725, they began rebuilding Fort Niagara, on the site 
where De Nonville had erected his fortress. They did so with- 
out opposition, though it seems strange that they could so easily 
have allayed the jealousy of the Six Nations. It may be pre- 
sumed, however, that the very fact of the French being such 
poor colonizers worked to their advantage in establishing a cer- 
tain kind of influence among the Indians. 


Few of them being desirous of engaging in agriculture, they 
made little effort to obtain land, while the English were con- 
stantly arousing the jealousy of the natives by obtaining enor- 
mous grants from some of the chiefs, often doubtless by very 
dubious methods. Moreover, the French have always possessed 
a peculiar facility for assimilating with savage and half-civilized 
races, and thus gaining an influence over them. 

Whatever the cause, the power of the French constantly in- 
creased among the Senecas. Fort Niagara was their stronghold, 
and Erie county with the rest of Western New York was, for 
over thirty years, to a very great extent under their control. 
The influence of Joncaire was maintained and increased by his 
sons, Chabert and Clauzonne Joncaire, all through the second 
quarter of the eighteenth century. 

In the war between England and France, begun in 1744 and 
closed by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle in 1748, the Six Nations 
generally maintained their neutrality, though the Mohawks gave 
some aid to the English. During the eight years of nominal peace 
which suc'ceeded that treaty, both nations were making constant 
efforts to extend their dominion beyond their frontier settle- 
ments, the French with the more success. To Niagara, Detroit 
and other posts they added Presque Isle, (now Erie,) Venango, 
and finally Fort Du Quesne on the site of Pittsburg; designing 
to establish a line of forts from the lakes to the Ohio, and 
thence down that river to the Mississippi. 

Frequent detachments of troops passed through along this 
line. Their course was up the Niagara to Buffalo, thence either 
by batteaux up the lake, or on foot along the shore, to Erie, and 
thence to Venango and Du Quesne. Gaily dressed French offi- 
cers sped backward and forward, attended by the feathered war- 
riors of their allied tribes, and not unfrequently by the Senecas. 
Dark-gowned Jesuits hastened to and fro, everywhere receiving 
the respect of the red men, even when their creed was rejected, 
and using all their art to magnify the power of both Rome and 

It is possible that the whole Iroquois confederacy would have 
been induced to become active partisans of the French, had it 
not been for one man, the skillful English superintendent of In- 
dian affairs, soon to be known as Sir William Johnson. He, 


having in 1734 been sent to America as the agent of his uncle, 
a great landholder in the valley of the Mohawk, had gained 
almost unbounded influence over the Mohawks by integrity in 
dealing and native shrewdness, combined with a certain coarse- 
ness of nature which readily affiliated with them. He had 
made his power felt throughout the whole confederacy, and had 
been intrusted by the British government with the management 
of its relations with the Six Nations. 

In 1756, after two years of open hostilities in America, and 
several important conflicts, war was again declared between 
England and France, being their last great struggle for suprem- 
acy in the new world. The ferment in the wilderness grew more 
earnest. More frequently sped the gay officers and soldiers of 
King Louis from Quebec, and Frontenac.and Niagara, now in bat- 
teaux, now on foot, along the western border of our county ; stay- 
ing perchance to hold a council with the Seneca sachems, then 
hurrying forward to strengthen the feeble line of posts on which 
so much depended. In this war the Mohawks were persuaded 
by Sir William Johnson to take the field in favor of the English. 
But the Senecas were friendly to the French, and were only re- 
strained from taking up arms for them by unwillingness to fight 
their Iroquois brethren, who were allies of the English. 

At first the French were everywhere victorious. Braddock, 
almost at the gates of Fort Du Quesne, was slain, and his army 
cut in pieces, by a force utterly contemptible in comparison with 
his own. Montcalm captured Oswego. The French line up the 
lakes and across to the Ohio was stronger than ever. 

But in 1858 William Pitt became prime minister, and then 
England flung herself in deadly earnest into the contest. That 
year Fort Du Quesne was captured by an English and provincial 
army, its garrison having retreated. Northward, Fort Frontenac 
was seized by Col. Bradstreet, and other victories prepared the 
way for the grand success of 1859. The cordon was broken, but 
Fort Niagara still held out for France, still the messengers ran 
backward and forward, to and from Presque Isle and Venango, 
still the Senecas strongly declared their friendship for Yon- 
nondio and Yonnondio's royal master. 

In 1759, yet heavier blows were struck. Wolfe assailed Que- 
bec, the strongest of all the French strongholds. Almost at the 


same time Gen. Prideaux, with two thousand British and provin- 
cials, accompanied by Sir William Johnson with one thousand 
of his faithful Iroquois, sailed up Lake Ontario and laid siege 
to Fort Niagara. Defended by only six hundred men, its cap- 
ture was certain unless relief could be obtained. 

Its commander was not idle. Once again along the Niagara, 
and up Lake Erie, and away through the forest, sped his lithe, red- 
skinned messengers to summon the sons and the allies of France. 
D'Aubrey, at Venango, heard the call and responded with his 
most zealous endeavors. Gathering all the troops he could 
from far and near, 'stripping bare with desperate energy the 
little French posts of the West, and mustering every red man 
he could persuade to follow his banners, he set forth to relieve 

Thus it was that about the 20th of July, 1759, while the Eng- 
lish army was still camped around the walls of Quebec, while 
Wolfe and Montcalm were approaching that common grave to 
which the path of glory was so soon to lead them, a stirring 
scene took place on the western borders of our county. The 
largest European force which had yet been seen in this region 
at any one time came coasting down the lake from Presque Isle, 
past the mouth of the Cattaraugus, and along the shores of 
Brant, and Evans, and Hamburg, to the mouth of the limpid 
Buffalo. Fifty or sixty batteaux bore near a thousand French- 
men on their mission of relief, while a long line of canoes were 
freighted with four hundred of the dusky warriors of the West. 

A motley yet gallant band it was which then hastened along 
our shores, on the desperate service of sustaining the failing for- 
tunes of France. Gay young officers from the court of the 
Grand Monarque sat side by side with sunburned trappers, whose 
feet had trodden every mountain and prairie from the St. Law- 
rence to the Mississippi. Veterans who had won laurels under 
the marshals of France were comrades of those who knew no 
other foe than the Iroquois and the Delawares. 

One boat was filled with soldiers trained to obey with unques- 
tioning fidelity every word of their leaders ; another contained 
only wild savages, who scarce acknowledged any other law than 
their own fierce will. Here flashed swords and bayonets and 
brave attire, there appeared the dark rifles and buckskin gar- 


merits of the hardy hunters, while, still further on, the tomahawks 
and scalping-knives and naked bodies of Ottawa and Huron 
braves glistened in the July sun. 

There were some, too, among the younger men, who might 
fairly have taken their places in either batteau or canoe ; whose 
features bore unmistakable evidence of the commingling of 
diverse races ; who might perchance have justly claimed kindred 
with barons and chevaliers then resplendent in the salons of 
Paris, but who had drawn their infant nourishment from the 
breasts of dusky mothers, as they rested from hoeing corn on 
the banks of the Ohio. 

History has preserved but a slight record of this last struggle 
of the French for dominion in these regions, but it has rescued 
from oblivion the names of D 'Aubrey, the commander, and De 
Lignery, his second ; of Monsieur Marini, the leader of the In- 
dians ; and of the captains De Villie, Repentini, Martini and 

They were by no means despondent. The command contained 
many of the same men, both white and red, who had slaughtered 
the unlucky battalions of Braddock only two years before, and 
they might well hope that some similar turn of fortune . would 
yet give them another victory over the foes of France. 

The Seneca warriors, snuffing the battle from their homes on 
the Genesee and beyond, were roaming restlessly through Erie 
and Niagara counties, and along the shores of the river, uncer- 
tain how to act, more friendly to the French than the English, 
and yet unwilling to engage in conflict with their brethren of the 
Six Nations. 

Hardly pausing to communicate with these doubtful friends, 
D'Aubrey led his flotilla past the pleasant groves whose place 
is now occupied by a great commercial emporium, hurried by 
the tall bluff now crowned by the battlements of Fort Porter, 
dashed down the rapids, swept on in his eager course untroubled 
by the piers of any International bridge, startled the deer from 
their lairs on the banks of Grand Island, and only halted on 
reaching the shores of Navy Island. 

Being then beyond the borders of Erie county, I can give the 
remainder of his expedition but the briefest mention. After 
staying at Navy Island a day or two to communicate with the 


fort, he passed over to the mainland and confidently marched 
forward to battle. But Sir William Johnson, who had succeeded 
to the command on the death of Prideaux, was not the kind of 
man likely to meet the fate of Braddock. 

Apprised of the approach of the French, he retained men 
enough before the fort to prevent an outbreak of the garrison, 
and stationed the rest in an advantageous position on the east 
side of the Niagara, just below the whirlpool. After a battle 
an hour long the French were utterly routed, several hundred 
being slain on the field, and a large part of the remainder being 
captured, including the wounded D'Aubrey. 

On the receipt of these disastrous news the garrison at once 
surrendered. The control of the Niagara river, which had been 
in the hands of the French for over a hundred years, passed into 
those of the English. For a little while the French held posses- 
sion of their fort at Schlosser, and even repulsed an English 
force sent against it. Becoming satisfied, however, that they 
could not withstand their powerful foe, they determined to 
destroy their two armed vessels, laden with military stores. They 
accordingly took them into an arm of the river, separating Buck- 
horn from Grand Island, at the very northwesternmost limit of 
Erie county, burned them to the water's edge, and sunk the hulls. 
The remains of these hulls, nearly covered with mud and sand, 
are still, or were lately, to be seen in the shallow water where 
they sank, and the name of "Burnt Ship Bay" perpetuates the 
naval sacrifice of the defeated Gauls. 

Soon the life-bought victory of Wolfe gave Quebec to the 
triumphant Britons. Still the French clung to their colonies 
with desperate but failing grasp, and it was not until September, 
1760, that the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the governor general of 
Canada, surrendered Montreal, and with it Detroit; Venango, 
and all the other posts within his jurisdiction. This surrender 
was ratified by the treaty of peace between England and France 
in February, 1763, which ceded Canada to the former power. 

The struggle was over. The English Octavius had defeated 
the Gallic Antony. Forever destroyed was the prospect of a 
French peasantry inhabiting the plains of Erie county, of baron- 
ial castles crowning its vine-clad heights, of a gay French city 
overlooking the mighty lake and the renowned river. 




Pontiac's League.— The Senecas Hostile.— The Devil's Hole.— Battle near Buffalo. 
— Treaty at Niagara. — Bradstreel's Expedition. — Israel Putnam. — Lake Com- 
merce. — Wreck of the Beaver. — Tryon County. 

Notwithstanding the disappearance of the French soldiers, 
the western tribes still remembered them with affection, and 
were still disposed to wage war upon the English. The cele- 
brated Pontiac united nearly all these tribes in a league against 
the red-coats, immediately after the advent of the latter, and as 
no such confederation had been formed against the French, 
during all their long years of possession, his action must be as- 
signed to some cause other than mere hatred of all civilized 

In May, 1863, the league surprised nine out of twelve English 
posts, and massacred their garrisons. Detroit, Pittsburg and 
Niagara alone escaped surprise, and each successfully resisted a 
siege, in which branch of war, indeed, the Indians were almost 
certain to fail. There is no positive evidence, but there is little 
doubt that the Senecas were involved in Pontiac's league, and 
were active in the attack on Fort Niagara. They had been un- 
willing to fight their brethren of the Long House, under Sir 
William Johnson, but had no scruples about killing the English 
when left alone, as was soon made terribly manifest. 

In the September following occurred the awful tragedy of the 
Devil's Hole, when a band of Senecas, of whom Honayewus, 
afterwards celebrated as Farmer's Brother, was one, and Corn- 
planter probably another, ambushed a train of English army- 
wagons, with an escort of soldiers, the whole numbering ninety- 
six men, three and a half miles below the Falls, and massacred 
every man with four exceptions. 

A few weeks later, on the 19th of October, 1763, there occurred 
the first hostile conflict in Erie county of which there is any 
record, in which white men took part. It is said to have been 


at the " east end of Lake Erie," but was probably on the river 
just below the lake, as there would be no chance for ambushing 
boats on the lake shore. 

Six hundred British soldiers, under one Major Wilkins, were 
on their way in boats to reinforce their comrades in Detroit. As 
they approached the lake, a hundred and sixty of them, who 
were half a mile astern of the others, were suddenly fired on by 
a band of Senecas, ensconced in a thicket on the river shore, 
probably on the site of Black Rock. Though even the British 
estimated the enemy at only sixty, yet so close was their aim 
that thirteen men were killed and wounded at the first fire. The 
captain in command of the nearest boats immediately ordered 
fifty men ashore, and attacked the Indians. The latter fell back 
a short distance, but rallied, and when the British pursued them 
they maintained their ground so well that three more men were 
killed on the spot, and twelve others badly wounded, including 
two commissioned officers. Meanwhile, under the protection of 
other soldiers, who formed on the beach, the boats made their 
way into the lake, and were joined by the men who had taken 
part in the fight. It does not appear that the Indians suffered 
near as heavily as the English. 

This was the last serious attack by the Senecas upon the En- 
glish. Becoming at length convinced that the French had really 
yielded, and that Pontiac's scheme had failed as to its main pur- 
pose, they sullenly agreed to abandon Yonnondio, and be at 
peace with Corlear. 

In April, 1764, Sir William Johnson concluded peace with eight 
chiefs of the Senecas, at Johnson's Hall. At that time, among 
other agreements, they formally conveyed to the king of Eng- 
land a tract fourteen miles by four, for a carrying place around 
Niagara Falls, lying on both sides of the river from Schlosser 
to Lake Ontario. This was the origin of the policy of reserv- 
ing a strip of land along the river, which was afterwards carried 
out by the United States and the State of New York. 

This treaty was to be more fully ratified at a council to be 
held at Fort Niagara in the summer of 1764. Events in the 
West, where Pontiac still maintained active but unavailing hos- 
tility to the British, as well as the massacres previously per- 
petrated by the Senecas, determined the English commander- 

56 bradstreet's expedition. 

in-chief to send a force up the lakes able to overcome all 

Accordingly, in the summer of 1764, Gen. Bradstreet, an able 
officer, with twelve hundred British and Americans, came by 
water to Fort Niagara, accompanied by the indefatigable Sir 
William Johnson and a body of his Iroquois warriors. A grand 
council of friendly Indians was held at the fort, among whom 
Sir William exercised his customary skill, and satisfactory trea- 
ties were made with them. 

But the Senecas, though repeatedly promising attendance in 
answer to the baronet's messages, still held aloof, and were said 
to be meditating a renewal of the war. At length Gen. Brad- 
street ordered their immediate attendance, under penalty of 
the destruction of their settlements. They came, ratified the 
treaty, and thenceforward adhered to it pretty faithfully, not- 
withstanding the peremptory manner in which it was obtained. 
In the meantime a fort had been erected on the site of Fort 
Erie, the first ever built there. 

In August Bradstreet's army, increased to nearly three thou- 
sand men, among whom were three hundred Senecas, (who seem 
to have been taken along partly as hostages,) came up the river 
to the site of Buffalo. Thence they proceeded up the south side 
of the lake, for the purpose of bringing the western Indians to 
terms, a task which was successfully accomplished without 
bloodshed. From the somewhat indefinite accounts which have 
come down to us, it is evident that the journey was made in 
open boats, rigged with sails, in which, when the wind was favor- 
able, excellent speed was made. 

Bradstreet's force, like D' Aubrey's, was a somewhat motley one. 
There were stalwart, red-coated regulars, who, when they marched, 
did so as one man ; hardy New England militia, whose dress and 
discipline and military maneuvers were but a poor imitation of 
the regulars, yet who had faced the legions of France on many 
a well-fought field ; rude hunters of the border, to whom all dis- 
cipline was irksome ; faithful Indian allies from the Mohawk 
valley, trained to admiration of the English by Sir William 
Johnson ; and finally the three hundred scowling Senecas, their 
hands red from the massacre of the Devil's Hole, and almost 
ready to stain them again with English blood. 


Of the British and Americans, who then in closest friendship 
and under the same banners passed along the western border of 
Erie county, there were not a few who in twelve years more were 
destined to seek each others lives on the blood-stained battle- 
fields of the Revolution. Among them was one whose name was 
a tower of strength to the patriots of America, whose voice ral- 
lied the faltering soldiers of Bunker Hill, and whose fame has 
come down to us surrounded by a peculiar halo of adventurous 
valor. This was Israel Putnam, then a loyal soldier of King 
George, and lieutenant colonel of the Connecticut battalion. 

For a while, however, there was peace, not only between Eng- 
land and France, but between the Indians and the colonists. 
The Iroquois, though the seeds of dissension had been sown 
among them, were still a powerful confederacy, and their war- 
parties occasionally made incursions among the western Indians, 
striding over the plains of Erie county as they went, and return- 
ing by the same route with their scalps and prisoners. 

Hither, too, came detachments of red-coated Britons, coming 
up the Niagara, usually landing at Fort Erie, where a post was 
all the while maintained, and going thence in open boats to De- 
troit, Mackinaw, and other western forts. It was not ab.solutely 
necessary to come this way to reach Pittsburgh, since the British 
base of supplies was not, like that of the French, confined to the 
St. Lawrence, but included Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

Along the borders of Erie county, too, went all the commerce 
of the upper lakes, consisting of supplies for the military posts, 
goods to trade with the Indians, and the furs received in return. 
The trade was carried on almost entirely in open boats, pro- 
pelled by oars, with the occasional aid of a temporary sail. In 
good weather tolerable progress could be made, but woe to any 
of these frail craft which might be overtaken by a storm. 

The New York Gazette, in February, 1 770, informed its read- 
ers that several boats had been lost in crossing Lake Erie, and 
that the distress of the crews was so great that they were obliged 
to keep two human bodies found on the north shore, so as to kill 
for food the ravens and eagles which came to feed on the 
corpses. This remarkable narrative of what may be called sec- 
ond-hand cannibalism, gives a startling picture of the hardships 
at that time attending commercial operations on Lake Erie. 


Other boats were mentioned at the same time as frozen up or 
lost, but nothing is said as to sail-vessels. There were, however, at 
least two or three English trading vessels on Lake Erie before the 
Revolution, and probably one or two armed vessels belonging to 
the British government. One of the former, called the Beaver, 
is known to have been lost in a storm, and is believed by the 
best authorities to have been wrecked near the mouth of Eight- 
een-Mile creek, and to have furnished the relics found in that 
vicinity by early settlers, which by some have been attributed to 
the ill-fated Griffin. 

The Senecas made frequent complaints of depredations com- 
mitted by whites on some of their number, who had villages on 
the head waters of the Susquehanna and Ohio. " Cressap's 
war," in which the celebrated Logan was an actor, contributed 
to render them uneasy, but they did not break out in open hos- 
tilities. ^ They, like the rest of the Six Nations, had by this 
time learned to place implicit confidence in Sir William John- 
son, and made all their complaints through him. 

He did his best to redress their grievances, and also sought 
to have them withdraw their villages from those isolated localities 
to their chief seats in New York, so they would be more com- 
pletely under his jurisdiction and. protection. Ere this could be 
accomplished, however, all men's attention was drawn to certain 
mutterings in the political sky, low at first, but growing more 
and more angry, until at length there burst upon the country 
that long and desolating storm known as the Revolutionary 

Before speaking of that it may be proper to remark that, mu- 
nicipally considered, all the western part of the colony of New 
York was nominally a part of Albany county up to 1772, 
though really all authority was divided between the Seneca 
chiefs and the officers of the nearest British garrisons. In that 
year a new county was formed, embracing all that part of the 
colony west of the Delaware river, and of a line running north- 
eastward from the head of that stream through the present county 
of Schoharie, then northward along the east line of Montgom- 
ery, Fulton and Hamilton counties, and continuing in a straight 
4ine to Canada. It was named Tryon, in honor of William 
Tryon, then the_ royal governor of New York. Guy Johnson, 


Sir William's nephew and son-in-law, was the earliest "first 
judge" of the common pleas, with the afterward celebrated 
John Butler as one of his associates. 

As the danger of hostilities increased, the Johnsons showed 
themselves more and more clearly on behalf of the King. Sir 
William said little and seemed greatly disturbed by the gather- 
ing troubles. There is little doubt, however, that, had he lived, 
he would have used his power in behalf of his royal master. 
But in 1774 he suddenly died. Much of his influence over the 
Six Nations descended to his son, Sir John Johnson, and his 
nephew, Col. Guy Johnson. The latter became his successor in 
the office of superintendent of Indian aiTairs. 




Four Iroquois Tribes hostile.— The Oswego Treaty.— Scalps.— Brant.— Guienguah- 
toh. — Wyoming. — Cherry Valley. — Sullivan's Expedition. — Senecas settle in 
Erie County. — Gilbert Family. — Peace. 

In 1775 the storm burst. The Revolution began. The new 
superintendent persuaded the Mohawks to remove westward 
with him, and made good his influence over all of the Six Na- 
tions except the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, though it was near 
two years from the breaking out of the war before they com- 
mitted any serious hostilities. John Butler, however, estab- 
lished himself at Fort Niagara, and organized a regiment of 
tories known as Butler's Rangers, and he and the Johnsons used 
all their influence to induce the Indians to attack the Americans. 

The Senecas held off for awhile, but the prospect of both blood 
and pay was too much for them to withstand, and in 1777 they, 
in common with the Cayugas, Onondagas and Mohawks, made 
a treaty with the British at Oswego, agreeing to serve the king 
throughout the war. Mary Jemison, the celebrated " White 
Woman," then living among the Senecas on the Genesee, de- 
clares that at that treaty the British agents, after giving the In- 
dians numerous presents, " promised a bounty on every scalp 
that should be brought in." 

The question whether a price was actually paid or promised 
for scalps has been widely debated. There is not sufficient evi- 
dence to prove that it was done, and the probabilities are that 
it was not. Mary Jemison was usually considered truthful, and 
had good means of knowing what the Indians understood on 
the subject, but the latter were very ready to understand that 
they would be paid for taking scalps. An incident on the 
American side, which will be narrated in the account of the war 
of 1812, will illustrate this propensity of the savages. 

As formerly the Senecas, though favorable to the French, 
hesitated about attacking their brethren of the Long House, so 


now the Oneidas, who were friendly to the Americans, did not 
go out to battle against the other Iroquois, but remained neutral 
throughout the contest. The league of the Hedonosaunee was 
weakened but not destroyed. 

From the autumn of 1777 forward, the Senecas, Cayugas, On- 
ondagas and Mohawks were active in the British interest. Fort 
Niagara again became, as it had been during the French war, 
the key of all this region, and to it the Iroquois constantly 
looked for support and guidance. Their raids kept the whole 
frontier for hundreds of miles in a state of terror, and were at- 
tended by the usual horrors of savage warfare. 

Whether a bounty was paid for scalps or not, the Indians 
were certainly employed to assail the inhabitants with constant 
marauding parties, notwithstanding their well-known and invet- 
erate habit of slaughtering men, women and children whenever 
opportunity offered, or at least whenever the freak happened to 
take them. In fact they were good for very little else, their de- 
sultory method of warfare making them almost entirely useless 
in assisting the regular operations of an army. 

The most active and the most celebrated of the Iroquois 
chiefs in the Revolution was Joseph Brant, or Thayendenegea, a 
Mohawk who had received a moderate English education under 
the patronage of Sir William Johnson. He was most frequently 
intrusted with the command of detached parties by the British 
officers, but it does not appear that he had authority over all the 
tribes, and it is almost certain that the haughty Senecas, the 
most powerful tribe of the confederacy, to whom by ancient 
law belonged both the principal war-chiefs of the league, would 
not and did not submit to the control of a Mohawk. 

Three of the chiefs of the Senecas in that conflict are well 
known — " Farmer's Brother," " Cornplanter," and " Governor 
Blacksnake " ; but who was their chief-in-chief, if I may be 
allowed to coin the expression, is not certain. I do not myself 
think there was any, but am of the opinion that the leader of 
each expedition received his orders directly from the English 

W. L. Stone, author of the life of Brant, says that at the 
battle of Wyoming, in 1778, the leader of the Senecas, who 
formed the main part of the Indian force on that occasion, was 


Guiengwahtoh, supposed to be same as Guiyahgwahdoh, "the 
smoke-bearer." That was the official title of the Seneca after- 
wards known as " Young King," he being a kind of hereditary 
ambassador, the bearer of the smoking brand from the great 
council-fire of the confederacy to light that of the Senecas. 
He was too young to have been at Wyoming, but his predeces- 
sor in office, (probably his maternal uncle,) might have been 
there. Brant was certainly not present. 

I have called that affair the "battle" instead of the "massacre" 
of Wyoming, as it is usually termed. The facts seem to be that 
no quarter was given during the conflict, and that after the 
Americans were routed the tories and Senecas pursued, and 
killed all they could, but that those who reached the fort and 
afterwards surrendered were not harmed, nor were any of the 
non-combatants. The whole valley, however, was devastated, 
and the houses burned. 

At Cherry Valley, the same year, the Senecas were present in 
force, together with a body of Mohawks, under Brant, and of 
tories, under Capt. Walter Butler, son of Col. John Butler, and 
there then was an undoubted massacre. Nearly thirty women and 
children were killed, besides many men surprised helpless in 
their homes. 

These events, and other similar ones on a smaller scale, in- 
duced congress and General Washington to set on foot an expe- 
dition in the spring of 1779, which, though carried on outside 
the bounds of Erie county, had a very strong influence on that 
county's subsequent history. I refer to the celebrated expedi- 
tion of General Sullivan against the Six Nations. 

Having marched up the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where 
he was joined by a brigade under General James Clinton, (father 
of De Witt Clinton,) Sullivan, with a total force of some four 
thousand men, moved up the Chemung to the site of Elmira. 
There Col. Butler, with a small body of Indians and tories, 
variously estimated at from six hundred to fifteen hundred men,, 
had thrown up intrenchments, and a battle was fought. Butler 
was speedily defeated, retired with considerable loss, and made 
no further opposition. 

Sullivan advanced and destroyed all the Seneca villages on 
the Genesee and about Geneva, burning wigwams and cabins. 


cutting down orchards, cutting up growing corn, and utcerly de- 
vastating the country. The Senecas fled in great dismay to 
Fort Niagara. The Onondaga villages had in the meantime 
been destroyed by another force, but it is plain that the Senecas 
were the ones who were chiefly feared, and against whom the 
vengeance of the Americans was chiefly directed. After thor- 
oughly laying waste their country, the Americans returned to 
the East. 

Sullivan's expedition substantially destroyed the league which 
bound the Six Nations together. Its form remained, but it had 
lost its binding power. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras were 
encouraged to increase their separation from the other confeder- 
ates. Those tribes whose possessions had been destroyed were 
thrown into more complete subservience to the British power, 
thereby weakening their inter-tribal relations, and the spirits of 
the Senecas, the most powerful and warlike of them all, were 
much broken by this disaster. 

It was a more serious matter than had been the destruction 
of their villages in earlier times. They had adopted a more 
permanent mode of existence. They had learned to depend 
more on agriculture and less on the chase. They had not only 
corn-fields, but gardens, orchards, and sometimes comfortable 
houses. In fact they had adopted many of the customs of civil- 
ized life, though without relinquishing their primitive pleasures, 
such as tomakawking prisoners and scalping the dead. 

They fled en masse to Fort Niagara, and during the winter of 
1779-80, which was one of extraordinary severity, were scantily 
sustained by rations which the British authorities with difficulty 
procured- As spring approached the English made earnest 
efforts to reduce the expense, by persuading the Indians to make 
new settlements and plant crops. The red men were naturally 
anxious to keep as far as practicable from the dreaded foes who 
had inflicted such heavy punishment the year before, and were 
unwilling to risk their families again at their ancient seats. 

At this time a considerable body of the Senecas, with proba- 
bly some Cayugas and Onondagas, came up from Niagara and 
established themselves near Buffalo creek, about four miles 
above its mouth. This was, so far as known, the first permanent 
settlement of the Senecas in Erie county. They had probably 


had huts here to use while hunting and fishing, but no regular 
villages. In fact this settlement of the Senecas, in the spring 
of 1780, was probably the first permanent occupation of the 
county, since the destruction of the Neuter Nation a hundred 
and thirty-five years before. 

The same spring another band located themselves at the 
mouth of the Cattaraugus. 

Those who settled on Buffalo creek were under the leadership 
of Siangarochti, or Sayengaraghta, an aged but influential chief, 
sometimes called Old King, and said to be the head sachem of 
the Senecas. They brought with them two or more more mem- 
bers of the Gilbert family, quakers who had been captured on 
the borders of Pennsylvania, a month or two previous. After 
the war the family published a narrative of their captivity, which 
gives much valuable information regarding this period of our 

Immediately on their arrival, the squaws began to clear the 
ground and prepare it for corn, while the men built some log 
huts and then went out hunting. That summer the family of 
Siangarochti alone raised seventy-five bushels of corn. 

In the beginning of the winter of 1780-81, two British offi- 
cers, Capt. Powell and Lieutenant Johnson, or Johnston, came to 
the settlement on Buffalo creek, and remained until toward 
spring. They were probably sent by the British authorities at 
Fort Niagara, to aid in putting the new settlement on a solid 
foundation. Possibly they were also doing some fur-trading on 
their own account. They made strenuous efforts to obtain the 
release of Rebecca and Benjamin, two of the younger mem- 
bers of the Gilbert family, but the Indians were unwilling to 
give them up. 

Captain Powell had married Jane Moore, a girl who, with her 
mother and others of the family, had been captured at Cherry 
Valley. The " Lieutenant Johnson " who accompanied him to 
Buffalo creek was most likely his half-brother, who afterwards 
located at Buffalo, and was known to the early settlers as Cap- 
tain William Johnston. There seems to have been no ground 
whatever for the supposition which has been entertained by some 
that he was the half-breed son of Sir William Johnson. All the 
circumstances show that he was not. 


Lieutenant Johnston, who was probably an officer in Butler's 
Rangers, was said by Mrs. Jemison to have robbed Jane Moore 
of a ring at Cherry Valley, which he afterwards used to marry 
the lady he had despoiled. As Jane Moore married Captain 
Powell instead of Lieutenant Johnston, this romantic story has 
been entirely discredited ; but since it has been ascertained that 
Johnston was a half-brother of Powell, it is easy to see how 
Mrs. Jemison might have confounded the two, and that John- 
ston might really have furnished the " confiscated " ring for his 
brother's wedding instead of his own. Captain (afterwards Col- 
onel) Powell is frequently and honorably mentioned in several 
accounts, as doing everything in his power to ameliorate the con- 
dition of the captives among the Indians. 

It must have been about this time that Johnston took unto 
himself a Seneca wife; for his son, John Johnston, was a young 
man when Buffalo was laid out in 1803. 

Elizabeth Peart, wife of Thomas Peart, son of the elder Mrs. 
Gilbert by a former husband, was another of the Gilbert family 
captives who was brought to Buffalo creek. She had been 
adopted by a Seneca family, but that did not induce much 
kindness on their part, for they allowed her child, less than a 
year old, to be taken from her, and adopted by another family, 
living near Fort Niagara. She was permitted to keep it awhile 
after its " adoption," but when they went to the fort for provis- 
ions, they took her and her infant along, and compelled her to 
give it up. 

Near the close of the winter of 1780-81, they were again 
compelled to go to Fort Niagara for provisions, and there she 
found her child, which had been bought by a white family from 
the Indians who had adopted it. By many artifices, and by the 
connivance of Captain Powell, she finally escaped to Montreal 
with her husband and children. 

Others of the Gilbert family still remained in captivity. 
Thomas Peart, brother of Benjamin, obtained his liberty in the 
spring of 1781, and was allowed to go to Buffalo creek with Capt. 
Powell, who was sent to distribute provisions, hoes, and other 
implements, among the Indians, At the distribution, the chiefs 
of every band came for shares, each having as many sticks as 
there were persons in his band, in order to insure a fair division. 


That spring, still another body of Indians . came to Buffalo 
creek, having with them Abner and Elizabeth Gilbert, the two 
youngest children of the family. But this band settled some 
distance from the main body, and the children were not allowed 
to visit each other. 

In July of that year, the family in which Abner Gilbert was 
went to " Butlersburg," a little village opposite Fort Niagara, 
named after Colonel Butler. The colonel negotiated with the 
woman who was the head of the family for Abner, and she 
agreed to give him up on receiving some presents. But he was 
only to be delivered after twenty days' time. She took him back 
to Buffalo creek, but finally returned with him before the stip- 
ulated day, and they were sent to Montreal by the first ship. 

Meanwhile, the war had gone forward with varying fortunes. 
Guy Johnson and Col. Butler kept the Indians at work as busily 
as possible, marauding upon the frontier, but they had been so 
thoroughly broken up that they were unable to produce such 
devastation as at Wyoming and Cherry Valley. 

In October, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered, and thenceforth 
there were no more active hostilities. 

Rebecca Gilbert and Benjamin Gilbert, Jr., were released the 
next year. This appears to have been managed by Col. Butler, 
who, to give him his due, always seemed willing to befriend the 
captives, though constantly sending out his savages to make new 
ones. Not until the arrangements were all made did the Indians 
inform Rebecca of her approaching freedom. With joyful heart 
she prepared for the journey, making bread and doing other 
needful work for her captors. 'Then, by canoe and on foot, she 
and her brother were taken to Niagara, and, after a conference, 
the last two of the ill-fated Gilbert family were released from 
captivity in June, 1782. 

In the fall of 1783, peace was formally declared between 
Great Britain and the revolted colonies, henceforth to be ac- 
knowledged by all men as the United States of America. By 
the treaty the boundary line was established along the 
center of Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie. Al- 
though the forts held by the British on the American side of the 
line were not given up for many years afterwards, and though 
they thus retained a strong influence over the Indians located 


on this side, yet the legal title was admitted to be in the United 
States. Thus the unquestioned English authority over the ter- 
ritory of Erie county lasted only from the treaty with France, 
in 1763, to that with the United States in 1783, a little over 
twenty years. 



FROM 1783 TO 1788. 

Treatment of the Six Nations.— The Treaty of Fort Stanwix.— The Western Bound- 
ary. — Origin of the Name of Buffalo. — Miss Powell's Visit. — "Captain 
David."— Claims of New York and Massachusetts. — How Settled. — Sale to 
Phelps and Gorham. — The Land Rings. ^A Council Called. 

No provision whatever was made in the treaty of peace for 
the Indian allies of Great Britain. The English authorities, 
however, offered them land, in Canada, but all except the Mo- 
hawks preferred to remain in New York. 

The United States treated them with unexampled modera- 
tion. Although the Iroquois had twice violated their pledges, 
and without provocation had plunged into the war against the 
colonies, they were readily admited to the benefits of peace, and 
were even recognized as the owners of all the land over which 
they had ranged before the Revolution. The property line, as 
it was called, previously drawn between the whites and Indians, 
ran along the eastern border of Broome and Chenango counties, 
and thence northwestward to a point seven miles west of Rome. 

In October, 1784, a treaty was made at Fort Stanwix (Rome) 
between three commissioners of the United States and the 
sachems of the Six Nations. The Marquis de la Fayette was 
present and made a speech, though not one of the commissioners. 
It is almost certain, however, that Red Jacket, then a young 
man, who afterwards claimed to have been there, did not really 
take any part in the council. Brant was not present, though he 
had been active in a council with Governor Clinton, only a short 
time before. Cornplanter spoke on behalf of the Senecas, but 
Sayengeraghta or " Old King," was recognized as the principal 
Seneca sachem. 

The eastern boundary of the Indian lands does not seem to 
have been in dispute, but the United States wanted to extin- 
guish whatever claim the Six Nations might have to the west- 
ern territory, and also to keep open the right of way around the 


Falls, which Sir William Johnson had obtained for the British. 
It was accordingly agreed that the western line of their lands 
should begin on Lake Ontario, four miles east of the Niagara, 
running thence southerly, in a direction always four miles east 
of the carrying path, to the mouth of Tehoseroron (or Buffalo) 
creek, on Lake Erie ; thence south to the north boundary of the 
State of Pennsylvania; "thence west to the end of said north 
boundary ; thence south along the west boundary of the State 
to the river Ohio." 

This agreement (if it is correctly given above, and I think it 
is) would have left the whole of Chautauqua county and a large 
part of Erie and Cattaraugus west of the line. It could hardly 
be called a treaty, as the Indians only agreed to it because they 
thought they were obliged to, and afterwards made so much com- 
plaint that its provisions were somewhat modified. 

The treaty of Fort Stanwix was the first public document 
containing the name of Buffalo creek, as applied to the stream 
which empties at the foot of Lake Erie. The narrative of the 
Gilbert family published just after the war was the first appear- 
ance of the name in writing or printing. 

This is a proper time, therefore, to consider a question which 
has been often debated, viz., whether the original Indian name 
was " Buffalo" creek. This almost of necessity involves the 
further question whether the buffalo ever ranged on its banks; 
for it is not to be presumed that the Indians would, in the first 
place, have adopted that name unless such had been the case. 

It is conceded that the Seneca name for the locality at the 
mouth of the creek was "To-se-o-way," otherwise rendered De- 
dyo-syo-oh, meaning "the place of basswoods." Te-ho-se-ro-ron 
is supposed to be the same word in the Mohawk dialect. It is 
therefore believed by some that the interpreter made a mistake 
in calling the stream "Buffalo creek " in the treaty of Fort Stan- 
wix, and that the Senecas afterwards adopted the name, calling 
the creek "Tick-e-ack-gou" or Buffalo. 

In the second chapter the writer briefly indicated his reasons 
for believing that the buffalo once visited, at least occasionally, 
the shores of Buffalo creek. The first fact to be considered is 
the unquestioned existence in Erie county of open plains of 
considerable extent, only seventy-five years ago. As they were 


then growing up with small timber, the presumption is that they 
were much larger previously, and old accounts coincide with the 

Numerous early travelers and later hunters mention the ex- 
istence of the buffalo in this vicinity or not far away. The 
strongest instance, is the account of Chaumonot and Brebceuf, 
referred to in the sixth chapter, which declares that the Neuter 
Nation, who occupied this very county of Erie, were in the habit 
of hunting the buffalo, together with other animals. 

Mr. Ketchum, in his history of "Buffalo and the Senecas," 
says that all the oldest Senecas in 1820 declared that buffalo 
bones had been found within their recollection at the salt licks, 
near Sulphur Springs. The same author produces evidence that 
white men had killed buffaloes within the last hundred and twenty 
years, not only in Ohio but in Western Pennsylvania. 

Albert Gallatin, who was a surveyor in Western Virginia in 
1784, declared, in a paper published by the American Ethnolo- 
gical Society, that they were at that time abundant in the Ke- 
nawha valley, and that he had for eight months lived principally 
on their flesh. This is positive proof, and the Kenawha valley 
is only three hundred miles from here, and only one hundred 
miles further west, and in as well wooded a country as this. 
Mr. Gallatin adds authentic evidence of their having previously 
penetrated west of the Alieganies. 

The narrative of the Gilbert family is very strong evidence 
that from the first the Senecas applied the name of Buffalo to 
the stream in question. Although the book was not published 
until after the war, yet the knowledge then given to the public 
was acquired in 1780, '81 and '82. At least six of the Gilberts 
and Pearts were among the Senecas on Buffalo creek. Some 
of them were captives for over two years, and must have ac- 
quired considerable knowledge of the language. It is utterly 
out of the question that they could all have been mistaken as 
to the name of the stream on which they lived, which must have 
been constantly referred to by all the Senecas in talking about 
their people domiciled there, as well as by the scores of British 
officers and soldiers with whom the Gilberts came in contact. 

If, then, the Neuter Nation hunted buffaloes in Canada in 1640, 
if they were killed by the whites in Ohio and Pennsylvania 


within the last century and a quarter, if Albert Gallatin found 
them abundant on the Kenawha in 1784, if the old Senecas of 
1820 declared they had found his bones at the salt lick, and if 
the Indians called the stream on which they settled in 1780 
"Buffalo" creek, there can be no reasonable doubt that they 
knew what they were about, and did so because that name came 
down from former times, when the monarch of the western prai- 
rie strayed over the plains of the county of Erie. 

The same year of the Fort Stanwix treaty- (1784) the name 
of Tryon county, of which Erie was nominally a part, was 
changed to Montgomery, in honor of the slain hero of Quebec. 

In May, 1785, Miss Powell, probably a sister of the Captain 
Powell before mentioned, visited an Indian council on Buffalo 
creek, and has left an interesting description, which I find in Mr. 
Ketchum's valuable repertory. After admiring the Falls, of 
which she writes in glowing terms, her party went in boats to 
Fort Erie. Thence they crossed to this side. She was accom- 
panied by Mrs. Powell (Jane Moore), and by several British 

One of her companions, (who had also been an officer, though 
I am not certain that he was then one,) was a young Irish no- 
bleman, whose name was soon to be raised to a mournful prom- 
inence, and whose fruitless valor and tragic fate are still the 
theme of ballad and story among the people of his native land. 
This was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who manifested a great fond- 
ness for visiting among the Indians, and who found an especial 
charm in the society of Brant. 

Before the council assembled, Miss Powell noticed several 
chiefs, gravely seated on the ground, preparing for it by painting 
their faces before small looking-glasses, which they held in their 
left hands. She declares there were two hundred chiefs present 
as delegates of the Six Nations, which, as there were not over 
two thousand warriors in all, was a very liberal allowance of 

The chief of each tribe formed a circle in the shade of a tree, 
while their appointed speaker stood with his back against it. 
Then the old women came, one by one, with great solemnity, and 
seated themselves behind the men. Miss Powell noted, with 
evident approval, that '" on the banks of Lake Erie a woman 


becomes respectable as she grows old;" and added that, though 
the ladies kept silent, nothing was decided without their appro- 

Their fair visitor was wonderfully taken with the manly ap- 
pearance of the Iroquois warriors, and declared that " our beaux 
look quite insignificant beside them." She was especially pleased 
with one who was called " Captain David," of whom she gave a 
very full account. Indians wearing the old clothes of white men 
are common enough now, but a full-fledged Iroquois beau of the 
last century was an altogether different personage, and I will 
therefore transcribe the substance of the lady's glowing de- 

She declared that the Prince of Wales did not bow with more 
grace than " Captain David." He spoke English with propriety. 
His person was tall and fine as it was possible to imagine ; his 
features handsome and regular, with a countenance of much 
softness ; his complexion not disagreeably dark, and, said Miss 
P., " I really believe he washes his face ; " the proof being that 
she saw no signs of paint forward of his ears. 

His hair was shaved off, except a little on top of his head, 
which, with his ears, was painted a glowing red. Around his 
head was a fillet of silver, from which two strips of black velvet, 
covered with silver beads and brooches, hung over the left tem- 
ple. A " fox-tail feather " in his scalp lock, and a black one be- 
hind each ear, waved and nodded as he walked, while a pah" of 
immense silver ear-rings hung down to his shoulders. 

He wore a calico shirt, the neck and shoulders thickly covered 
with silver brooches, the sleeves confined above the elbows with 
broad silver bracelets, engraved with the arms of England, while 
four smaller ones adorned his wrists. Around his waist was a 
dark scarf, lined with scarlet, which hung to his feet, while his 
costume was completed by neatly fitting blue cloth leggins, fast- 
ened with an ornamental garter below the knee. 

Such was the most conspicuous gentleman of Erie county 
ninety-one years ago, and Miss Powell enthusiastically declared 
that " Captain David made the finest appearance I ever saw in 
my life." 

Now and then some fair English maiden has been so smitten 
with the appearance of a native American warrior as to become 


his bride, and make her residence within his wigwam. Miss. 
Powell, however, was not quite so much charmed by Captain 
David as that, since she returned to Fort Erie that evening on 
her way to Detroit, leaving Lord Edward Fitzgerald and others 
to be entertained that night by the dancing of their dusky 

As was stated in Chapter VIII, the colonies of Massachu- 
setts and New'York had charters under which they could both 
claim not only all Central and Western New York, but a strip 
of land running through to the Pacific ocean, or at least to the 
Mississippi. About the close of the Revolution, however, both 
Massachusetts and New York ceded to the United States all 
claim to the territory west of a line drawn south from the west- 
ern extremity of Lake Ontario, being the present western bound- 
ary of Chautauqua county. 

After divers negotiations regarding the rest of the disputed 
territory, commissioners from the two States interested met at 
Hartford, in December, 1786, to endeavor to harmonize their 
claims. It was then and there agreed that Massachusetts should 
yield all claim to the land east of the present east line of On- 
tario and Steuben counties. Also that west of that line New 
York should have the political jurisdiction and sovereignty, 
while Massachusetts should have the title, or fee-simple, of the 
land, subject to the Indian right of occupancy. 

That is to say, the Indians could hold the land as long as 
they pleased, but were only allowed to sell to the State of Mas- 
sachusetts or her assigns. This title, thus encumbered, was 
called the preemption right, literally the right of first purchas-' 
ing. New York, however, reserved a tract a mile wide, along 
the eastern shore of the Niagara, from Lake Ontario to Lake 
Erie. As, by the treaty of Fort Stanwix, the lands of the Six 
Nations only came within four miles of the river, and did not 
extend west of a line running due south from the mouth of 
Buffalo creek, it is probable that the United States had since 
released the tract in New York west of that line to the Indians, 
in response to their numerous complaints. 

While these events were transpiring a combination (a " ring " 
it would now be called) was formed by prominent men in New 
York and Canada, to get control of the Indian lands in this 


State. Two companies were organized, "The New York and 
Genesee Land Company," of which one John Livingston was 
the manager, and the " Niagara Genesee Company," composed 
principally of Canadians, with Col. John Butler at the head. 
With him were associated Samuel Street, of Chippewa, Captain 
Powell, the friend of the captives, William Johnston, afterwards 
of Buffalo, and Benjamin Barton, of New Jersey. 

As the State constitution forbade the sale of Indian lands to 
individuals, these companies, working together, sought to evade 
it by a lease. So great was the influence of Butler and his 
friends that in 1787 the Six Nations, or some chiefs claiming to 
act for them, gave the New York and Genesee Company a lease 
of all their lands (except some small reservations) for nine hun- 
dred and ninety-nine years. The consideration was to be 
twenty thousand dollars, aixJ an annual rental of two thousand. 

The next winter the lessees applied to the legislature for a re- 
cognition of their lease, but the intent to evade the law was too 
plain ; the petition was promptly rejected and the lease declared 

Many of the chiefs, whether truly or not, declared this lease 
to have been made without authority. We may note, as con- 
firming what has been said of the influence of the female sex 
among these savages, that in a letter sent by several chiefs from 
Buffalo creek, in the spring of 1788, they say the lease is void, 
"since not one sachem nor principal woman had given their 

The lease having been declared void, the lessees next pro- 
posed to procure a conveyance by the Indians of all their lands 
to the State, provided the State would reimburse Livingston 
and his associates for all their expenses, and convey to them half 
the land. This specimen of "cheek" can hardly be exceeded 
even in these progressive days, considering that, by this propo- 
sition, Livingston, Butler and company would have got some 
four or five million acres of the finest land in America as a 
free gift. However, the proposition was promptly rejected. 

In 1788 Massachusetts sold all her land in New York, about 
six million acres, to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, act- 
ing on behalf of themselves and others, for one million dollars, 
in three equal annual installments, the purchasers being at lib- 


erty to pay in certain stocks of that State, then worth about 
twenty cents on the dollar. 

The purchase was subject of course to the Indian right of oc- 
cupancy. Phelps, the active man of the firm, made an arrange- 
ment with Livingston, who agreed, doubtless for a consideration, 
to help him negotiate a treaty with the Indians. But mean- 
while there was a disagreement between Livingston's and But- 
ler's companies, and when Phelps arrived at Geneva, where a 
council was to have been held, he learned that Butler and Brant 
had assembled the Indians at Buffalo creek, and had persuaded 
them not to meet with either Livingston or Phelps. Finding 
that Butler and his friends had the most influence over the 
savages, Phelps went to Niagara, came to a satisfactory ar- 
rangement with them, and then procured the calling of a coun- 
cil at Buffalo creek. 

It assembled on the fifth of July. The proceedings were 
very quiet and harmonious, for Butler and Brant made every- 
thing move smoothly. There was little dispute, little excite- 
ment, and none of those impassioned bursts of eloquence 
for which Indian orators have become famous ; yet the noted 
men present at that council make it one of the most remarka- 
ble assemblages ever convened in the county of Erie. A sepa- 
rate chapter will therefore be devoted to it and them. 




Brant. — Butler. — Kirkland. — Phelps. — Farmer's Brother. — Red Jacket. — Complant- 
er.— The Mill-seat.— The Bargain.— Butler's Pay. 

By far the most celebrated personage present in the council 
on Buffalo creek in July, 1788, was the Mohawk chieftain, 
called in his native tongue Thayendenegea, but denominated 
Joseph when he was taken under the patronage of Sir William 
Johnson, and known to fame throughout England and America 
by the name of Brant. A tall, spare, sinewy man of forty-five, 
with an intelligent but sinister countenance, gorgeously appar- 
eled in a dress which was a cross between that of a British offi- 
cer and of an Indian dandy, his gaudy blanket thrown back 
from his shoulders to display his gold epaulets, and his mili- 
tary coat eked out by the blue breech-cioth and leggins of the 
savage, the vain but keen-witted Mohawk doubtless enjoyed 
himself as the observed of all observers, but at the same time 
kept a sharp lookout for the main chance ; having acquired a 
decidedly civilized relish for land and money. 

Brant has acquired a terrible reputation as a bold and blood- 
thirsty leader of savages, but it would appear as if both his 
vices and his virtues were of the civilized — or semi-civilized — 
stamp. He had a mind which took easily to the instruction of 
the white man — though Jiis education was only mediocre — and 
before the Revolution he had become a kind of private secretary 
to Col. Guy Johnson ; a position that to a thorough-going In- 
dian would have been irksome in the extreme. Even the Mo- 
hawks did not then look up to him as a great warrior, and on 
the outbreak of hostilities chose as their chief his nephew, Peter 
Johnson, son of Sir William by Brant's sister Molly. 

But the British found Brant the most intelligent of the In- 
dians, and by using him they could most easily insure coopera- 
tion in their own plans. They therefore intrusted him with nu- 


merous expeditions, and the Mohawks readily yielded to his 
authority. So, too, perhaps, did some of the Cayugas and On- 
ondagas, but the evidence is strong that the Senecas never 
obeyed him. After the war, however, he was looked up to by 
all the Indians, on account of his influence with the British 

In the matter of cruelty, too, though perhaps not a very hu- 
mane man according to our standard, he was much less savage 
than most of his countrymen, and there is abundant evidence of 
his having many times saved unfortunate prisoners from torture 
or death. Albeit there is also evidence of his having taken 
some lives needlessly, but never of his inflicting torture. 

As he grew older he affected more and more the style of an 
English country gentleman, at his hospitable residences at Brant- 
ford and Burlington Bay, and finally died, in 1807, in the odor 
of sanctity, a member of the Episcopal church and a translator 
of the Scriptures into the Mohawk dialect ! 

Another active participant in the council, with a reputation 
scarcely less extensive or less sinister, was Col. John Butler, the 
leader of " Butler's Rangers," the commander at the far-famed 
" Massacre of Wyoming," the terror of ten thousand families, 
the loyal gentleman of British records, the " infamous Butler " 
of border history. 

In this case, as in many others, probably the devil was not so 
black as he has been painted, but he was a good deal of a devil 
after all. The " Massacre of Wyoming," as I have said, is per- 
haps hardly entitled to that name. But Colonel Butler was the 
most active agent in sending and leading the savages against the 
frontier, knowing that it was impossible at times to restrain them 
from the most horrible outrages. Again and again they mur- 
dered individuals and families in cold blood ; again and again 
they dragged women and children from their homes hundreds of 
miles through the snows of winter, often slaughtering those too 
feeble to travel ; and again and again John Butler, the great 
military authority of all this region, sent or led them to a repe- 
tition of similar scenes — and they were good for little else — 
easily satisfying his conscience by sometimes procuring the re- 
lease of a prisoner. 

A native of Connecticut, a man of education and intelligence, 


once a judge of the county of Tryon, then a bold, active and 
relentless partisan commander, cheering on his rangers and Sen- 
ecas at Wyoming, sword in hand, without his uniform and with 
a red 'kerchief tied around his head, Butler was in 1788 an 
agreeable appearing gentleman of fifty-five or sixty, stout and 
red-faced, in cocked hat and laced coat, with unbounded influ- 
ence over the Indians, and determined to use it so as to make a 
good thing for himself out of the lands of Western New York. 

There, too, was the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, the agent of Mas- 
sachusetts, a man of noble character and varied experience. 
Twenty-three years before, then a young man just graduated 
from college, he had devoted himself to the missionary cause 
among the Indians, going at first among these same Senecas, 
and making many friends, though meeting with some very dis- 
heartening adventures. Then he had taken up his home with 
the Oneidas and labored among them with some intermissions 
nearly forty years, ever receiving their most earnest affection 
and respect. It had been largely owing to his influence that 
that tribe had remained neutral during the revolution. Congress 
had employed him in various patriotic services throughout that 
struggle, and during Sullivan's campaign he had served as bri- 
gade chaplain. Fourteen years after the events we are now 
relating, he gained a new title to public gratitude by becoming 
the founder of Hamilton College, (though it then received only 
the modest title of Hamilton Oneida Academy,) giving it a 
liberal endowment out of lands granted him by the State for his 

On this occasion he acted not only as agent for Massachusetts 
but as one of the interpreters, there being three others, one of 
whom was William Johnston. This is the first positive appear- 
ance of one who was afterwards to exercise a powerful influence 
over the future of Buffalo — who was, in fact, to decide whether 
there should be any city of Buffalo or not. There i.s, however, 
little doubt that he was identical with the "Lieutenant Johnson," 
heretofore mentioned, who visited the Senecas in 1 780, and also 
with the Lieutenant Johnson whom Mrs. Jemison mentions as 
taking part in the Cherry Valley raid. 

Shrewd, persistent, enterprising, a typical business man of 
the day was Oliver Phelps, a Connecticut Yankee by birth, a 

farmer's brother. 79 

son of the Bay State by adoption, a New Yorker by subsequent 
residence. He had been an active and influential participant in 
the Revolution, and was now, as the agent of an association of 
Massachusetts speculators, negotiating for the purchase of a 
principality. Removing soon after to Canandaigua, and super- 
intending there the sale of the vast domain which he and his 
associates had purchased, he was to the day of his death looked 
up to with profound respect by the residents of "Phelps and 
Gorham's Purchase." But his keenness in a bargain is well illus- 
trated by a transaction at this very council, narrated a little 
further on. 

Among the Indian owners of the land the most eminent was 
Honayewus, who had for several years been recognized as prin- 
cipal war-chief of the Senecas, and who had lately received the 
name of "Farmer's Brother" from the lips of Washington. The 
latter, anxious to make agriculture respectable among the Indi- 
ans, declared himself a farmer in conversation with Honayewus, 
and also saluted him as his brother. The chieftain, proud of the 
attention paid him by the great hero of the pale-faces, readily 
accepted the title of "Farmer's Brother," and ere long was uni- 
versally known by that name among the whites. 

A strong, stalwart warrior, of gigantic frame and magnificent 
proportions, straight as an arrow, though nearly sixty years old, 
plainly attired in full Indian costume, with eagle eye, frank, 
open countenance, commanding port and dignified demeanor, 
Honayewus was, more than Brant, or Red Jacket, or Cornplant- 
er, the beau ideal of an Iroquois chief Though an eloquent 
orator, second only to Red Jacket in all the Six Nations, he was 
preeminently a warrior, and as such had been followed by the 
Senecas through many a carnival of blood. It is to be pre- 
sumed, too, that he had had his share in scenes of cruelty, for, 
though a peaceable man in peace, he was a savage like his 
brethren, and, like a savage, he waged war to the knife. 

Thirty years before he had been one of the leaders in the ter- 
rible tragedy of the Devil's Hole, when nearly a hundred Eng- 
lish soldiers were ambushed and slain, and flung down into the 
darksome gorge. He had borne his part in many a border foray 
throughout the Revolution, had led the fierce charge of the Sen- 
ecas when they turned the scale of battle at Wyoming, and had 


perhaps been an actor in the more dreadful scenes of Cherry 
Valley. Now he had become the friend of peace, the foe of in- 
temperance, the conservator of order ; and wherever a Seneca 
village was found, on the banks of the Buffalo or the Cattarau- 
gus, of the Genesee or the Allegany, the presence of Farmer's 
Brother was greeted, the name of Honayewus was heard, with 
the respect due to valor, wisdom and integrity. 

There, too, was the more celebrated but less respected leader, 
who had lately been made a chief by the honorable name of 
Sagoyewatha, "The Keeper Awake," (literally, "he keeps them 
awake"— a tribute to his oratorical powers which many a con- 
gressman might envy,) but who was generally known among 
the whites by the ridiculous appellation which he transmitted to 
his descendants, the far-famed Red Jacket. 

He, too, had been an actor in the border wars, but had gained 
no laurels in them. Brant and Cornplanter both hated him, de- 
claring him to be both a coward and a traitor. They were 
accustomed to tell of the time when he made a glowing speech, 
urging the Senecas to battle, but, while the conflict was going 
on, was discovered cutting up the cow of another Indian, which 
he had killed. He was at that time frequently called "The 
Cow-Killer," and that name was inserted in two or three public 
documents, being afterwards crossed out and "Red Jacket" 

The treason with which he was charged seems to have con- 
sisted in making various efforts for peace, during Sullivan's 
campaign, without the sanction of the war-chiefs. At one time 
he is said to have clandestinely sent a runner to the American 
camp, inviting a flag of truce. Brant heard of the proceeding, 
and had the unlucky messenger intercepted and killed. Proba- 
bly some of the stories regarding his timidity and treachery are 
false, but there are a good many of them, and they all point the 
same way. 

Notwithstanding all this, such was the charm of his eloquence, 
of which the Iroquois were always great admirers, and such the 
clearness of his intellect, that he was rapidly gaining in influence, 
and had been made a chief ; that is, as I understand it, a civil 
chief, or counselor of the sachems. 

At the beginning of the Revolution he was a youth of about 


twenty. The British officers had been attracted by his intelli- 
gence, and had frequently employed him as a messenger, for 
which he was as well qualified by his fleetness of foot as by his 
shrewdness of mind. They had compensated him by a succes- 
sion of red jackets, in which he took great pride, and from which 
he derived his name. 

Slender of form and subtle of face, clad in the most gorgeous 
of Indian raiment, Sagoyewatha doubtless attracted the atten- 
tion of the whites, but he had little opportunity to display his 
powers, for Brant and the omnipotent Butler had got everything 
arranged in the most satisfactory manner. 

There, too, was Captain John O'Bail, or Abeel, more widely 
known as Cornplanter. Half white by blood, but thoroughly 
Indian by nature, he had been one of the bravest and most suc- 
cessful chiefs of the Senecas during the war, but was now under 
a cloud among his people, because of his assent to the treaty of 
Fort Stanwix. He is said by Mrs. Jemison to have captured 
his own father, the old white trader, John Abeel, in one of his 
raids, but to have released him after taking him a few miles. 

Farmer's Brother and Red Jacket both lived on Buffalo creek, 
but Cornplanter's residence was on the Allegany, in Pennsylva- 
nia, where a band of Senecas looked up to him as their leader. 

Sayengeraghta, "Old King," or "Old Smoke," as he was vari- 
ously termed, was„if living, still the principal civil sachem of the 
Senecas, but his mildness and modesty prevented his taking a 
prominent part among so many great warriors and orators. 

Besides all these there was a host of inferior chiefs, whose 
rank gave them a right to take part in the council, while close 
by were the other warriors of the tribes, painted and plumed, 
who had no vote in the proceedings, but who, in the democratic 
system of the Six Nations, might have a potent influence if they 
chose to exercise it. 

A number of British officers from Forts Niagara and Erie 
added splendor to the scene, and last, not least, was a row of 
old squaws, mothers in Israel, seated in modest silence behind 
the chiefs, but prepared if need be to express an authoritative 
opinion on the merits of the case — a right which would have 
been recognized by all. 

Such was the varied scene, and such the actors in it, on the 
banks of Buffalo creek, a little over eighty-seven years ago. 


The council, as I have said, was very harmonious. The Indi- 
ans were wiUing to sell a part of their land, and apparently were 
not very particular about the price. The only dispute was 
whether the west line of the territory sold should be along the 
Genesee river or, as Phelps desired, some distance this side. The 
Indians insisted that the Great Spirit had fixed on that stream 
as the boundary between them and the whites. 

After several days discussion, Phelps suggested that he 
wanted to build some mills at the falls of the Genesee, (now 
Rochester,) which would be very convenient fdr Indians as well 
as whites. Would his red brethren let him have a mill-seat, and 
land enough for convenience around it. 

Oh, yes, certainly, mills would be a fine thing, and their white 
brother should have a mill-seat. How much land did he want 
for that purpose .' 

After due deliberation Phelps replied that he thought a strip 
about twelve miles wide, extending from Avon to the mouth of 
the river, twenty-eight miles, would be about right ! 

The Indians thought that would be a pretty large mill-seat, 
but as they supposed the Yankees knew best what was necessary 
for the purpose they let him have the land. As it contained 
something over 200,000 acres it was probably the largest mill- 
seat ever known. 

From Avon south, the west line of the purchase was to run 
along the Genesee to the mouth of the Caneseraga, and thence 
due south to the Pennsylvania line. This was "Phelps and Gor- 
ham's Purchase." It included about 2,600,000 acres, and the 
price was left by the complaisant aborigines to Col. Butler, 
Joseph Brant and Elisha Lee, Mr. Kirkland's assistant. They 
fixed the price at five thousand dollars in hand, and five hun- 
dred dollars annually, forever. This was about equal to twelve 
thousand dollars in cash, or half a cent an acre. 

Two weeks later we find Col. Butler calling on Mr. Phelps by 
letter for a conveyance of twenty thousand acres of the land, in 
accordance with a previous arrangement. Phelps duly trans- 
ferred the land to the persons designated by Butler. Consider- 
ing that the colonel had been one of the referees to fix the price, 
this transfer looks as if some of the Indian operations of that 
era would not bear investigating any better than those of later 


FROM 1788 TO 1797. 

"Skendyoughwatti."— First White Resident.— A Son of Africa.— The Holland Pur- 
chase. — Proctor^s Visit.— British Influence. — Woman's Rights. — Final Fail- 
ure. — The Indians Insolent. — Wayne's Victory. — Johnston, Middaugh and 
Lane. — The Forts Surrendered. — Asa Ransom. — The Mother's Strategy. — 
First White Child.— The Indians Sell Out.— Reservations. 

Mr. Kirkland made another journey to Buffalo creek the next 
fall, seeking to pacify those Indians who were discontented re- 
garding the sale just made by the Senecas, and also about those 
made by other tribes to the State of lands farther east. He 
mentions seeking the aid of the second man of influence 
among the Senecas on Buffalo creek, "Skendyoughwatti." This 
fearful-looking name I understand to be the same as that called 
" Conjockety " by the early settlers, and which their descendants 
have transmuted into Scajaquada. 

In returning, Kirkland says he lodged at " the Governor's vil- 
lage," on the Genesee, and adds : " The Governess had set out 
for Niagara near a week before. I had not her aid in the coun- 
cil." This "Governess" is mentioned in other accounts, and seems 
to have been a very important personage, but who she was, or 
what her functions, is among the mysteries of local history. 

In 1789 the county of Ontario was erected from Montgomery, 
(to which riame that of Tryon county has been changed,) in- 
cluding the whole of the Massachusetts land, or substantially 
all west of Seneca Lake ; a territory now comprising thirteen 
counties and two parts of counties. 

About this time, certainly before 1791, and probably in 1789, 
the first white man took up his permanent residence in Erie 
county. This was Cornelius Winne, or Winney, a Hudson river 
Dutchman, who established a little log store for trading with the 
Indians on the site of Buffalo, at the foot of the hill which old 
residents still remember as existing at the Mansion House. This 
was four miles from the main Seneca village, but there were 


scattered huts all the way down the creek to Farmer's Point, 
where Farmer's Brother lived. Captain Powell had an interest 
in Winney's store. 

I call Winney the first resident, for though William Johnston 
had spent much time among the Senecas, as a kind of British 
agent, and had taken a Seneca wife, there is no evidence that he 
had made his permanent abode among them. 

Almost as soon as the earliest white man — possibly preceding 
him — the irrepressible African made his advent in our county ; 
for in 1792 I find "Black Joe," alias Joseph Hodge, established 
as an Indian trader on Cattaraugus creek, and from the way in 
which he is mentioned I infer that he had already been there a 
considerable time. 

Meanwhile the adoption of the Federal Constitution had 
caused a great rise in Massachusetts stocks, so that Phelps and 
Gorham were unable to make the payments they had agreed on. 
After much negotiation, Massachusetts released them from 
their contract as to all the land except that to which they had 
extinguished the Indian title, to wit, "Phelps and Gorham's 
Purchase." Of that the State gave them a deed in full. 

Massachusetts at once sold the released land in five tracts 
to Robert Morris, the merchant prince of Philadelphia, and the 
celebrated financier of the Revolution. The easternmost of these 
tracts Mr. Morris sold out in small parcels. The remaining four 
constituted the "Holland Purchase." Mr. Morris sold it by four 
conveyances (not corresponding, however, to the four given by 
Massachusetts) made in 1792 and '93, to several Americans who 
held it in trust for a number of Hollanders, who being aliens 
could not hold it in their own name. As they did not begin the 
settlement of the county until several years later, it is unneces- 
sary to say more of them here. 

In 1 79 1 there was great uneasinesss among the Indians, even 
in this vicinity, and in the West they were constantly committing 
depredations. The British still held all the forts on the Ameri- 
can side of the boundary line, in open violation of the treaty of 
peace, alleging that the Americans had also failed to comply 
with its provisions. To what extent they encouraged the In- 
dians to hostilities is not known, but in view of the protecto- 
rate which they openly assumed over the savages, and which the 

proctor's visit. 85 

latter acknowledged, it cannot well be doubted that the English 
influence was hostile to the United States. 

In April, 1791, Col. Thomas Proctor, a commissioner ap- 
pointed by the War Department, came from Philadelphia to 
Cornplanter's villages on the Allegany, thence, accompanied by 
that chief and many of his warriors, to the Cattaraugus settle- 
ment, and then down the beach of the lake to Buffalo creek. 
Horatio Jones, the celebrated captive and interpreter, was also of 
the party. Proctor's object was to persuade the Senecas to use 
their influence to stop the hostilities of the western Indians, 
(against whom Gen. St. Clair was then preparing to move,) and 
to that end to send *a delegation of chiefs along with him on a 
mission to the Miamis. His journal is published by Ketchum, 
and gives much information regarding the condition of affairs 
in Erie county in 1791. 

He found the English influence very strong, the Indians ob- 
taining supplies not only of clothing but of provisions from 
Forts Erie and Niagara. On the commissioner's arrival "Young 
King," who could not have been over twenty-two or three years 
old, met him, apparelled in the full uniform of a British colonel, 
red, with blue facings and gold epaulets. The Senecas were 
also in possession of a two-pound swivel, which they fired in 
honor of the occasion, the gunner wisely standing inside the 
council house while he touched it off with a long pole passed be- 
tween the logs. The charge was so heavy that it upset the gun 
and its carriage. 

At this time Red Jacket had risen to a high position, being 
mentioned by Proctor as " the great speaker, and a prince of the 
Turtle tribe." In fact, however, he belonged to the Wolf clan. 

On Proctor's stating his object in the council. Red Jacket ques- 
tioned his authority. This, as the colonel was informed by a 
French trader, was the result of the insinuations of Butler and 
Brant, who had been there a week before and had advised the 
Indians not to send a delegation to the Miamis. Proctor offered 
to present his credentials to any one in whom they had confi- 
dence, and they at once sent for the commandant at Fort Erie. 
The latter sent back Capt. Powell, who seems to have acted as a 
kind of guardian to the Indians during the proceedings. These 
were very deliberate, and were adjourned from day to day. 


Red Jacket was the spokesman of the Indians, and declared 
their determination to move the council to Niagara, insisting on 
the commissioner's accompanying them the next day as far as 
Capt. Powell's house below Fort Erie. Proctor peremptorily de- 
clined. Then Red Jacket and Farmer's Brother addressed the 
council by turns, the result being that a runner was at once sent 
to Niagara to summon Col. Butler to the council. After two or 
three days delay Butler came to Winney's store-house, and re- 
quested the sachems and head men to meet him there, but said 
nothing about Proctor. 

While waiting, the commissioner dined with "Big Sky," head 
chief of the Onondagas, whose "castle" he describes as being 
three miles east from "Buffalo" meaning from the Seneca vil- 
lage. There were twenty-eight good cabins near it, and the 
inhabitants were well clothed, especially the women, some of 
whom, according to Col. P., were richly dressed, "with silken 
Stroud" and silver trappings worth not less than thirty pounds 
($150) per suit ! It seems, too, that they had advanced so far in 
civilization that the ladies were invited to the feast of the warri- 
ors, which consisted principally of young pigeons boiled and 
stewed. These were served up in hanks of six, tied around the 
necks with deer's sinews, and were ornamented with pin feathers. 
However, the colonel made a good meal. 

On the 4th of May the Indians repaired to the store-house to 
hold council with Butler. The latter invited Proctor to dine 
with him and his officers, including Capts. Powell and Johnston. 
They talked Indian fluently, and advised the chiefs not to go 
with the commissioner then, but to wait for Brant, who had gone 
west. Red Jacket and Young King appear to have been work- 
ing for Proctor. The latter at length resented the interference 
of the British and insisted on a speedy answer from the Indi- 
ans. Every paper delivered to the chiefs was handed over to 
Butler, who went back to Fort Erie next day. 

On the 6th of May, Ambassador Red Jacket announced that 
there would be no council, as the honorable councilors were 
going out to hunt pigeons. Proctor makes special mention of 
the immense number of pigeons found— over a hundred nests on 
a tree, with a pair of pigeons in each. 

On the 7th a private council was held, at which land was 

woman's rights. 87 

assigned to Indians of other tribes who had fled from the Shaw- 
nees arid Miamis. "Capt. Smoke" and the Delawares under his 
charge were assigned to Cattaraugus, where their descendants 
dwell at the present day. Several Missisauga families had plant- 
ing-grounds given them near the village of Buffalo creek. 

On the nth, Proctor declares there was a universal drunk; 
"Cornplanter and some of the elder women excepted," from 
which the natural inference is that the young women indulged 
with the rest. 

Finally, on the 15th of May, the elders of the women repaired 
to the commissioner's hut, and declared that they had 'taken the 
matter into consideration, and that they should be listened too, 
for, said they: "We are the owners of this land, and it is ours;" 
adding, as an excellent reason for the claim, "for it is we that 
plant it." They then requested Colonel Proctor to listen to a 
formal address from "the women's speaker," they having ap- 
pointed Red Jacket for that purpose. 

The alarm-gun was fired, and the chiefs came together, the 
elder women being seated near them. Red Jacket arose, and 
after many florid preliminaries, announced that the women had 
decided that the sachems and warriors must help the commis- 
sioner, and that a number of them would accompany him to the 

Col. Proctor was overjoyed at this happy exemplification of 
woman's rights, and seems to have thought there would be no 
further difficulty. He forthwith dispatched a letter by the trusty 
hands of Horatio Jones to Col. Gordon, the commandant at 
Niagara — who was located opposite the, fort of that name — 
asking that himself and the Indians might take passage on 
some British merchant-vessel running up Lake Erie, since 
the chiefs refused to go in an open boat. (It is worth no- 
ticing that even so late as 1791, Proctor spoke of Jones' crossing 
the " St. Lawrence " instead of the Niagara.) 

Gordon, in the usual spirit of English officials on the frontier 
at that time, refused the permission, and so the whole scheme 
fell through. It was just what was to have been expected, though 
Proctor does not seem to have expected it, and it is very likely 
the whole thing was well understood between the British and 


While it was supposed that Red Jacket and others would go 
with Proctor, that worthy had several requests to make. Firstly, 
the colonel was informed that his friends expected something 
'to drink, as they were going to have a dance before leaving their 
women. This the commissioner responded to with a present of 
"eight gallons of the best spirits." Then Red Jacket remarked 
that his house needed a iloor, and Proctor offered to have 
one made. Then he preferred a claim for a special allowance of 
rum for his wife and mother, and in fact — well — he wanted 
a little rum himself So the colonel provided a gallon for 
the great orator and his wife and mother. Young King was 
not less importunate, but Cornplanter was modest and dignified, 
as became a veteran warrior. But the worthy commissioner 
made due provision for them all. 

The projected expedition having thus fallen through, Young 
King made a farewell speech, being aided by " Fish Carrier," a 
Cayuga chief, whose " keen gravity " put Proctor in mind of a 
Roman senator, and who seems to have been a man of great 
importance, though never putting himself forward as a speech- 

The Indians must have had a pretty good time during Proc- 
tor's stay, as his liquor bill at Cornelius Winney's was over 
a hundred and thirty dollars. 

A very curious item in the commissioner's diary is this : " Gave 
a white prisoner that lived with said Winney nine pounds four 
and a half pence." Who he was, or to whom he could have 
been prisoner, is a mystery, since the Indians certainly held no 
prisoners at that time, and Cornelius, the Dutch trader, could 
hardly have captured a white man, though the law would have 
allowed him to own a black one. 

All this counciling having come to naught. Col. Proctor set 
out for Pittsburg on the 21st of May, having spent nearly a 
month in the very highest society of Erie county. 

A little later, the successive defeats of Harmer and St. Clair, 
by the western Indians, aroused all the worst passions of the 
Iroquois. Their manners toward the Americans became inso- 
lent in the extreme, and it is positively asserted that some of 
their warriors united with the hostile bands. There is little 
doubt that another severe disaster would have disposed a large 


part of them to rise in arms, and take revenge for the unforgot- 
ten though well-merited punishment inflicted by Sullivan. Yet 
they kept up negotiations with the United States ; in fact nothing 
delighted the chiefs more than holding councils, making treaties, 
and performing diplomatic pilgrimages. They felt that at such 
times they were indeed "big Indians." 

In 1792, Red Jacket and Farmer's Brother were two of fifty 
chiefs who visited the seat of government, then at Philadelphia. 

The former then claimed to be in favor of civilization, and it 
was at this time that Washington gave him the celebrated medal 
which he afterwards wore on all great occasions. It was of sil- 
ver, oval in form, about seven inches long by five wide, and rep- 
resented a white man in a general's uniform, presenting the 
pipe of peace to an Indian scantily attired in palm leaves. The 
latter has flung down his tomahawk, which lies at his feet. Be- 
hind them is shown a house, a field, and a man ploughing. 

A characteristic anecdote is told of Red Jacket, by his biog- 
rapher, regarding one of these visits. On his arrival at the seat 
of government, Gen. Knox, then Secretary of War, presented 
the distinguished Seneca with the full uniform of a military ofifi- 
cer, with cocked hat and all equipments complete. Red Jacket 
requested the bearer to tell Knox that he could not well wear 
military clothes, he being a civil sachem, not a war chief If 
any such present was to be made him, he would prefer a suit of 
civilian's clothes, but would keep the first gift till the other was 
sent. In due time a handsome suit of citizen's clothes was 
brought to his lodging. The unsophisticated savage accepted 
it, and then remarked to the bearer that in time of war the sa- 
chems went out on the war-path with the rest, and he would 
keep the military suit for such an occasion. And keep it he did. 

In 1794, Mad Anthony Wayne went out to Ohio. He did 
not allow himself to be surprised, and when he met the hordes of 
the Northwest he struck them down with canister and bayonet, 
until they thought the angel of death himself was on their 
track. Said Joshua Fairbanks, of Lewiston, to a Miami Indian 
who had fled from that terrible onslaught : 

" What made you run away ? " With gestures corresponding 
to his words, and endeavoring to represent the effect of the can- 
non, he replied : 


" Pop, pop, pop — ^boo, woo, woo — whish, whish — boo, woo — 
kill twenty Indians one time — no good, by dam." 

The Senecas had runners stationed near the scene of conflict, 
and when they brought back the news of the tremendous pun- 
ishment inflicted on their western friends, all the Iroquois in 
Western New York resolved to be "good Indians;" and from 
that time forth they transgressed only by occasional ebullitions 
of passion or drunkenness. 

In September of that year (1794), another treaty was made 
at Canandaigua, by which the United States agreed to give the 
New York Iroquois $10,000 worth of goods, and an annuity of 
$4,000 annually in clothing, domestic animals, etc. It was also 
fully agreed that the Senecas should have all the land in New 
York west of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, except the reser- 
vation a mile wide along the Niagara. 

This council at Canandaigua was the last one at which the 
United States treated with the Iroquois as a confederacy. Wil- 
liam Johnston, so often mentioned before, came there, and was 
discovered haranguing some of the chiefs. It was believed 
that he was acting in behalf of the British, to prevent a treaty, 
and Col. Pickering, the United States commissioner, compelled 
him to leave. 

. About this time, or a little earlier, Johnston took up his per- 
manent residence in a block-house which he built near Winney's 
store, at the mouth of Buffalo creek. His Indian friends gave 
him two square miles of land in the heart of the present city of 
Buffalo. His title would doubtless have been considered void in 
the courts of the pale-faces, but so long as the Senecas should 
retain their land Johnston would be allowed to use his magnifi- 
cent domain at will. 

About the same time as Johnston, perhaps a little later, one 
Martin Middaugh, a Hudson river Dutchman, though re- 
cently from Canada, and his son-in-law, Ezekiel Lane, were 
allowed by Johnston to build a log house on his land, near his 
own residence. Middaugh was a cooper, and perhaps made 
some barrels for the Indians, but both he and Lane seem to 
have been dependents of Johnston. 

There had begun to be considerable travel through Erie 
county. There was emigration to Canada, which was rapidly 


settling up, and also to Ohio, which was open for purchase. 
There were no roads but Indian trails, but some way or other 
people managed to flounder through. In 1794 or '95 the first 
tavern was opened in the county. 

In the latter year there came hither a French duke, bearing 
the ancient and stately name of De La Rochefoucauld Liaincourt, 
probably driven from France by the revolution, who was desir- 
ous of seeing the red man in his native wilds. On his way to 
the Seneca village he and his companions passed the night at 
" Lake Erie," the name applied to the cluster of log houses on 
Johnston's land. When men spoke of " Buffalo," they referred to 
the village of the Senecas. 

There was then something in the shape of an inn, but if the 
landlord " kept tavern " he kept nothing else; "for," says the duke 
in his travels, " there was literally nothing in the house, neither 
furniture, rum, candles, nor milk." The absence of rum was 
certainly astonishing. Milk was at length procured " from the 
neighbors," and rum and candles from across the river. The 
name of this frugal pioneer landlord is supposed to have been 
Skinner, as a man of that name certainly kept there only a little 

On the 4th of July, 1796, Fort Niagara and the other posts 
so long withheld were surrendered by the British to the United 
States. This strengthened the impression made on the Indians 
by Wayne's victory, and confirmed them in the disposition to 
cultivate friendly relations with the Americans. 

In that year, too, the little settlement of "Lake Erie" was in- 
creased by the arrival from Geneva of Mr. Asa Ransom, a reso- 
lute and intelligent young man, a silversmith by trade, who built 
a log house near the site of the liberty pole, established him- 
self there with his delicate young wife and infant daughter, and 
went to work making silver brooches, ear-rings, and other orna- 
ments in which the soul of the red man and the red man's wife 
so greatly delighted. This was the first family that brought into 
Erie county the habits and refinements of civilized life. 

At this time, the few settlers who wanted to get corn ground 
were obliged to take it over the river, and down to Niagara, forty 
miles distant. On one occasion, some little time after the arri- 
val of Mr. Ransom, he and all the other men of the settlement. 

92 THE mother's STRATEGY. 

(three or four in number,) had gone to Canada to mill, except 
Cornelius Winney and Black Joe, who had left the Cattaraugus 
Indians and was living with Winney. While they were gone 
several Indians came to Ransom's house and demanded " rum," 
about the only English word they knew. Mrs. Ransom told 
them she had none, but they insisted she had. On her con- 
tinued refusal one of them suddenly seized her only child, a 
little girl of two years old, which was toddling about the floor, 
and with uplifted tomahawk threatened its life. Probably this 
was only done to scare, but the mother did not understand such 
a jest. 

Though frightened beyond measure she had sufficient pres- 
ence of mind to try strategy on the evil-minded crew. She im- 
mediately promised them rum, (partly by words and partly by 
signs,) if they would allow her to go up stairs to get it. They 
assented, but insisted on retaining her infant as a hostage for 
the appearance of the stimulant. 

Taking her niece, a girl of twelve, Mrs. Ransom went up- 
stairs into the low chamber of their log house, and immediately 
fastened the door behind her. Then snatching a pair of sheets 
from the bed she hastily knotted them together, and with this 
improvised rope she lowered the girl to the ground, directing 
her to hasten at once to Mr. Winney, whose influence was sup- 
posed to be sufficient to pacify the angry savages. 

Then with wildly-beating heart the mother waited, fearing 
every moment lest she should hear the screams of her child, sac- 
rificed in a sudden freak of barbaric rage. Ere long the In- 
dians were heard beating on the door with their tomahawks, but 
it was a stout one, and before it could be broken down Winney 
arrived. By some means he managed to control them, and in- 
duced them to withdraw. But to the end of her life the 
mother never told the tale, without betraying by her faltering 
voice and paling cheek how deeply she had felt the terrors of 
that day. 

The infant heroine of this exciting scene bore the dramatic 
name of Portia, but was afterwards better known as Mrs. Chris- 
topher M. Flarvey. 

In the fall of 1797 the "Lake Erie" settlement received an- 
other addition by the arrival of a daughter in the Ransom fami- 


ly, being the first white child born in Erie county, so far as 
known, and the first in New York west of the Genesee river, 
outside of Fort Niagara. Some twenty-two years later this 
little stranger became Mrs. Frederick B. Merrill. 

I mentioned some pages back the sale by Robert Morris to 
certain Holland gentlemen, (through their American friends,) 
of nearly all the land west of the Genesee ; the seller agreeing to 
extinguish the Indian title. It was not until 1797 that this 
could be accomplished. In September of that year a council 
was held at Geneseo, at which Morris bought the whole of the 
remaining Seneca lands in New York, except eleven reservations 
of various sizes, comprising in all about three hundred and thir- 
ty-eight square miles. 

Of these the Buffalo creek reservation, the largest of all, lay 
wholly in Erie county. By the terms of the treaty it was to 
contain a hundred and thirty square miles, lying on both sides 
of BufTalo creek, about seven miles wide from north to south, 
and extending eastward from Lake Erie. The Cattaraugus 
reservation was to contain forty-two square miles, on both sides 
of Cattaraugus creek near its mouth, being in the present coun- 
ties of Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. As finally surveyed 
about thirty-four square miles were in Erie county. 

The Tonawanda reservation was to contain seventy square 
miles, lying on both sides of Tonawanda creek, beginning "about 
twenty-five miles" from its mouth, and running east "about seven 
miles wide." Of this, as surveyed, some fifteen square miles were 
in Erie county. The other reservations, which were all small, 
were entirely outside of the county. 

As will have been seen, the amounts reserved were all definite, 
but the precise lines were left to be located afterwards, in order 
not to crowd any of the Indian villages. The tract bought, 
aside from the reservations, contained about three million three 
hundred thousand acres, for which Morris paid ten thousand 
dollars, or less than a third of a cent per acre. 

Considering the complaints which Indians are all the time 
making about the loss of their lands, it certainly seems strange 
that they should throw them away by the million acres for a 
merely nominal price, as they have usually done. The sale to 
Phelps and Gorham was not so excesssively strange because it 


involved no change in their mode of life. They still had vast 
hunting grounds west of the Genesee. But that to Morris at 
once destroyed all hope of living by the chase, and necessitated 
their adopting to a considerable extent the habits of the white 
man. They appear to have forgotten all about the Great Spirit's 
fixing the Genesee as their eastern boundary. Yet they showed 
no inclination to demand white men's prices for their land. 

Certainly such men as Red Jacket and Farmer's Brother, who 
had visited the eastern cities and had seen the wealth of the 
whites, must have known that a third of a cent per acre was a 
very poor price to pay for land. True, we may suppose they 
were bought, (which would accord with Red Jacket's character,) 
but one would imagine that, in the democratic Iroquois system, 
the warriors of the tribe could easily have prevented a sale, and 
in view of their reiterated complaints over the Fort Stanwix 
treaty and the sale to Phelps and Gorham, it is strange they did 
not do so. They must have wanted whisky very badly. 



The Holland Company.— Three Sets of Proprietors.— Their System of Surveys.— 
The State Reservation. —The West Transit.— The Founder of Buffalo.— The 
First Road.— Indian Trails.— New Amsterdam. — Hotel at Clarence.— A 
Young Stranger. — Ellicott made Agent.— First Wheat. 

Much has been written and more has been said about the 
"Holland Company." When people wished to be especially 
precise they called it the "Holland Land Company." It has 
been praised and denounced, blessed and cursed, besought for 
favors and assailed for refusal, almost as much as any institution 
in America. Not only in common speech, in newspapers and in 
books, but in formal legal documents it has been again and 
again described as the "Holland Company" or the "Holland 
Land Company," according to the fancy of the writer. 

Yet there never was any such thing as the Holland Company 
or the Holland Land Company. 

Certain merchants and others of the city of Amsterdam 
placed funds in the hands of friends who were citizens of Amer- 
ica, to purchase several tracts of land in the United States, 
which, being aliens, the Hollanders could not hold in their own 
name at that time. One of these tracts, comprising what was 
afterwards known as the Holland Purchase, was bought from 
Robert Morris as has before been mentioned. From their names, 
I should infer that most of those who made the purchase for the 
Hollanders were themselves of Holland birth, but had been 
naturalized in the United States. 

In the forepart of 1798 the legislature of New York author- 
ized those aliens to hold land within the State, and in the latter 
part of that year the American trustees conveyed the Holland 
Purchase to the real owners. It was transferred, however, to 
two sets of proprietors, and one of these sets was soon divided 
into two, making three in all. Each set held its tract as "joint 
tenants," that is, the survivors took the whole ; the shares could 


not be the subject of will nor sale, and did not pass by inher- 
itance, except in case of the last survivor. 

But there was no incorporation and no legal company. All 
deeds were made in the name of the individual proprietors. 
The three sets of owners appointed the same general and local 
agents, who in their behalf carried out one system in dealing 
with the settlers, though apportioning the expenses among the 
three sets according to their respective interests, and paying to 
each the avails of their own lands. 

At the first transfer by the trustees the whole tract, except 
300,000 acres, was conveyed to Wilhem Willink, Nicholas Van 
Staphorst, Pieter Van Eeghen, Hendrick Vollenhoven, and Rut- 
ger Jan Schimmelpenninck. The 300,000 acres were conveyed 
to Wilhem Willink, Jan Willink, Wilhem Willink, Jr., and Jan 
Willink, Jr. Two years later the five proprietors of the main 
tract transferred the title of about a million acres so that it was 
vested in the original five and also in Wilhem Willink, Jr., Jan 
Willink, Jr., Jan Gabriel Van Staphorst, Roelif Van Staphorst, 
Jr., Cornelius Vollenhoven and Hendrick Seye. Pieter Stad- 
nitzki, was also made a partner, though in some unknown manner. 

In the hands of these three sets of owners the titles remained 
during the most active period of settlement, only as men died 
their shares passed to the survivors, and their names were drop- 
ped out of the deeds. Some twenty years later new proprie- 
tors were brought in, but the three sets remained as before. It 
will be observed that Wilhem Willink was the head of each of 
the three sets, and as he outlived nearly all the rest his name 
was the first in every deed. 

The same proprietors, or a portion of them, also held large 
bodies of land in Central New York and in Pennsylvania, all 
managed by the same general agent at Philadelphia. 

For convenience, however, all these owners will be described 
throughout this work by the name to which every one in Erie 
county is accustomed, that of the "Holland Company," and 
their tract in Western New York will be considered as distinct- 
ively the " Holland Purchase," though there were other bodies 
of land equally well entitled to the name. 

The first general agent of the company was Theophilus Caze- 
nove, a Hollander sent out from Europe for the purpose. Pre- 


vious to the extinguishment of the Indian title to the Company's 
lands in New York, Cazenove had employed Joseph EUicott to 
survey their tract in Pennsylvania. He was a younger brother of 
Andrew A. Ellicott, then surveyor-general of the United States, 
and had assisted him in laying out the city of Washington. 

As soon as the treaty was made with the Indians, in the fall 
of 1797, Mr. Cazenove employed the same efficient person 
to survey the new tract. That same autumn he and Augustus 
Porter, the surveyor employed by Robert Morris, in order to as- 
certain the number of acres in the Purchase, took the necessary 
assistance, began at the northeast corner, traversed the northern 
bounds along Lake Ontario to the Niagara, thence up the river 
to Lake Erie, and thence along the lake shore to the v;estern 
boundary of the State. 

No sooner had the keen eye of Joseph Ellicott rested on the 
location at the mouth of Buftalo creek than he made up his 
mind that that was a most important position, and he ever after 
showed his belief by his acts. 

The next spring, (1798,) the grand surveying campaign began, 
with Ellicott as general-in-chief He himself ran the east line 
of the Purchase, usually called the East Transit. Eleven other 
surveyors, each with his corps of axemen, chain men, etc., went 
to work at different points, running the lines of ranges, town- 
ships and reservations. All through the Purchase the deer 
were startled from their hiding-places, the wolves were driven 
trrowling from their lairs, by bands of men with compasses and 
theodolites, chains and flags, while the red occupants looked 
sullenly on at the rapid parceling out of their broad and fair 

The survey system adopted by the Holland Company was 
substantially the same as that previously followed on Phelps 
and Gorham's Purchase, and was not greatly different from that 
now in use by the United States all over the West. The tract 
was first divided into ranges six miles wide, running from Penn- 
sylvania to Lake Ontario, and numbered from east to west- 
These were subdivided into townships six miles square, num- 
bered from south to north. 

The original intention was to divide every complete township 
into sixteen sections, each a mile and a half square; subdividing 


these into lots, each three quarters of a mile long and one quar- 
ter wide, every one containing just a hundred and twenty acres. 
This plan* however, was soon abandoned as inconvenient and 
complicated, and the townships were divided into lots three 
fourths of a mile square, containing three hundred and sixty 
acres each. These were sold off in parcels to suit purchasers. 
It was a common but not invariable rule to divide them into 
" thirds " of a hundred and twenty acres each. 

Twenty-four townships had already been surveyed when the 
first plan was abandoned, three of which were in Erie county, 
being the present town of Lancaster and the southern part of 
Newstead and Clarence. 

Both systems differ from that of the United States, in that by 
the latter each township is divided into sections a mile square, 
and these into quarter-sections of a hundred and thirty acres 

It will be understood that various causes, such as the exist- 
ence of lakes and rivers, the use of large streams as boundaries, 
the great fickleness of the magnetic needle, the interposition of 
reservation lines, etc., frequently caused a variation from the 
normal number of .square miles in a township, or of acres in a 

The surveys went briskly forward. Ellicott, after running the 
east line of the Purchase, stayed at " Buffalo Creek " the greater 
part of the season, directing operations. By this name I refer 
to the cluster of cabins at the mouth of the creek, previously 
called " Lake Erie " ; for on the opening of surveys that appel- 
lation was dropped, and the name "Buffalo Creek" was speedily 
transferred thither from the Seneca village to which it had be- 
fore pertained. 

In the fall Seth Pease ran the line of the State reservation 
along the Niagara river, or the " streights of Niagara," as that 
stream was then frequently termed. There was some difiSculty 
in determining its boundaries at the southern end, as the lake 
gradually narrowed so it was hard to tell where it ended and the 
river began. It was at length agreed between the State author- 
ities and the company that the river should be considered to 
commence where the water was a mile wide. 

From the point on the eastern bank opposite this mile width 


of water, a boundary was drawn, consisting of numerous short 
lines, amounting substantially to the arc of a circle with a mile 
radius, giving to the State all the land within a mile of the 
river, whether east from its eastern bank or south from its head. 
The boundary in question, since known as the " mile line," began 
at the foot of Genesee street, as afterwards laid out, crossed 
Church street a little west of Genesee, crossed Niagara street a 
few rods northwest of Mohawk, continued on the arc above 
described to the intersection of North and Pennsylvania streets, 
and thence ran northward, always keeping a mile from the river, 
to Lake Ontario. 

Beside the East Transit, another standard meridian was run 
as a base of operations in the western part of the Purchase, and 
called the West Transit. It was the line between the sixth and 
seventh ranges, and is now the boundary between JZlarence, 
Lancaster, Elma, Aurora and Golden on the east, and Am- 
herst, Cheektowaga, West Seneca, East Hamburg and Boston 
on the west. 

A portion of the 300,000 acres conveyed to the four Willinks, 
as before mentioned, lay in a strip nearly a mile and a half wide, 
(113 chains, 68 links,) just west of the West Transit, extending 
from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario. The rest of the land be- 
longing to that set of proprietors was in the southeast comer of 
the Purchase. 

All that part of Erie county west of the West Transit (except 
the preemption right to the reservations), was included in the 
conveyance of a million acres to the larger set of proprietors, 
while that part east of the Transit was retained by the five orig- 
inal owners. The transit, however, was not the line between 
the two sets throughout the whole Purchase. 

The city of Buffalo was founded by Joseph Ellicott. He not 
only selected the site and laid out the town, but it was only 
through his good judgment and special exertions that there was 
any town there. 

All through the summer and fall of 1798, though only the su- 
perintendent of surveys, and in no way responsible for the future 
prosperity of the Purchase, he labored zealously to get room for 
a city at the foot of Lake Erie. He saw that the State reser- 
vation would come down within a short distance of the cluster 


of cabins which he meant should be the nucleus of a great com- 
mercial emporium. He saw, too, that if the Buffalo Creek res- 
ervation, (which by the treaty with Morris was to be seven miles 
wide, lying on both sides of the creek), should be surveyed with 
straight lines, it would run square against the State reservation, 
and cut off the Holland Company entirely from the foot of the 

The Indians were not particular about having the land at the 
mouth of the creek for themselves, but they had granted two 
square miles to their friend Johnston, and, though they could 
give no title, they could insist on the whole being included in 
their reserve, unless an arrangement should be made with him. 
They had also given him, substantially, a life-lease of a mill- 
seat and certain timbered lands on Scajaquada creek, six miles 
from the mouth of the Buffalo. 

Ellicott made frequent attempts to arrange matters with John- 
ston, but thought him somewhat extravagant in his demands. 
In a letter to Cazenove, dated at Buffalo Creek, Sept. 28, 1798, 
Ellicott says : " I have always considered this place one of the 
keys to the company's lands." Three times in two pages he 
speaks of it as "the favorite spot." 

At length he succeeded in making a compromise with John- 
ston, by which the latter agreed to use his influence to have the 
Indians leave the town-site out of the reservation, on condition 
that the company should deed to him the mill-site, a mile square 
of land adjoining it, and forty-five and a half acres in the town, 
including his improvements. Johnston's influence was sufficient. 
So, instead of the north boundary of the Buffalo Creek reser- 
vation being, extended due west, along the line of^ William 
street, striking the State reservation near Fourth street, as would 
otherwise have been the case, it turned, just east of what is now 
known as " East Buffalo," and ran southwest to the creek, and 
thence to the lake. It is now for nearly two miles the boundary 
between the first and fifth wards. 

About this time Sylvanus Maybee came to Buffalo as an In- 
dian trader, and Mr. John Palmer took the place of Skinner as 

The previous winter the legislature had authorized the laying 
out of a State road from Conewagus (Avon) to Buffalo Creek, and 



another to Lewiston. The Cou ^. au_ subb_riLi"a •.! -■ .id 

dollars for cutting them out. The first wagon-track opened in 
Erie county was made under the direction of Mr. Ellicott, who, 
in the spring of 1798, employed men to improve the Indian 
trail from the East T/ansit to Buffalo. 

This trail ran from the east, even from the valley of the Hud- 
son, crossing the Genesee at Avon, running through Batavia, 
and down the north side of Tonawanda creek, crossing into 
Erie county at the Tonawanda Indian village. Thence it ran 
over the site of Akron, through Clarence Hollow and Williams- 
ville, to Cold Spring, and thence following nearly the line of 
Main street to the creek. 

A branch turned off, running not far from North street to 
Black Rock, where both Indians and whites were in the habit of 
crossing to Canada. Another branch diverged at Clarence, 
struck Cayuga creek near Lancaster, and ran down it to the 
Seneca village. 

Another principal trail ran from Little Beard's Town, on the 
Genesee, entered Erie county near the southeast corner of the 
present town of Alden, struck the reservation at the southwest 
corner of that town, and ran thence westerly to the Seneca 

Besides, there were trails up the Cazenove and Eighteen-Mile 
creeks, and between the Buffalo and Cataraugus villages. 

In 1799 little was done except to push forward the surveys. 
It was determined that the city to be built on the ground se- 
cured by Mr. Ellicott should be called "New Amsterdam," and 
he began to date his letters at that address. In that year the 
company offered several lots, about ten miles apart, on the road 
from the East Transit to Buffalo, to any proper men who 
would build and keep open taverns upon them. The lots were 
not donated, but were to be sold at the company's lowest price, 
on long time and without interest. 

In Erie county this offer was accepted by Asa Ransom, the 
Buffalo silversmith, who located himself at what is now Clar- 
ence Hollow. This was the first settlement in Erie county made 
white-man fashion, that is, with a white man's view of obtaining 
legal title to the land. All previous settlement had been mere- 
ly on sufferance of the Indians. 


One of the first strangers who applied for entertainment at 
the new hotel was a young gentleman afterwards known as 
Colonel Harry B. Ransom. He arrived in November, 1799, 
and was in all probability the first white male child born in Erie 

In this year a contract was granted evidently by special favor, 
to Benjamin Ellicott (brother of Joseph) and John Thomson, 
two of the surveyors, for three hundred acres in township 12, 
range 7, (Amherst,) which was not yet subdivided into lots. 
There is some discrepancy in the description as recorded, but 
I am satisfied that the contract covered the site of Williamsville, 
and the water-power there. The price was two dollars per 

The same year Timothy S. Hopkins, afterwards well known 
as Gen. Hopkins, came into the county and took charge of 
Johnston's saw-mill, the only one in the county, where he worked 
during the season. Notwithstanding the absence of regular set- 
tlers, the numerous camps of surveyors made "brisk times," 
and any one who was willing to work could get good wages and 
prompt pay. 

Theophilus Cazenove, the general agent of the company, re- 
turned to Europe in 1799. His name, given by Mr. Ellicott to 
one of the largest streams in Erie county, remains as a perpetual 
reminiscence of his connection with the Holland Purchase. His 
place as agent was supplied by Paul Busti, a native of Italy, 
who until his death, twenty-four years later, faithfully discharged 
the duties of that position. 

The next year the laying off of the Purchase into townships 
was completed, and a number of townships were subdivided into 
lots. Mr. Ellicott was appointed local agent for the sale of the 
land. While in the East, this season, he issued handbills headed 
"Holland Company West Geneseo lands," apprising the public 
that they would soon be for sale, and stating that they were 
situated adjacent to "Lakes Erie and Ontario and the streights 
of Niagara." 

Mr. Ransom raised some crops this year, and T. S. Hop- 
kins and Otis Ingalls cleared a piece of land two miles east, 
(in the edge of Newstead,) and raised wheat upon it ; the first 
on the Holland Purchase. When it was ready for grinding, Mr. 


H. was obliged to take it to Street's mill at Chippewa, forty 
miles. He went with three yoke of cattle by way of Black 
Rock, the whole population of which then consisted of an Irish- 
man named O'Niel, who kept the ferry. The ferriage each way 
was two dollars and a half, and the trip must have taken at least 
four days. 

104 Fn<i'E GROVE. 



The Office at Pine Grove. — A Hard Problem. — The First Purchase. — Dubiou.s 
Records. — An Aboriginal Engineer. — A Growing Family. — A Proposed 
School House. — A Venerable Mansion. — Chapin's Project. — The First 

At length all was ready. In January, 1801, Mr. Ellicott re- 
turned from the East, staid a few days at "New Amsterdam," 
and then located his office at "Ransomville," or "Pine Grove." 
Sometimes he used one appellation in dating his letters, some- 
times the other, apparently in doubt as to which was the more 
euphonious. He could hardly have anticipated that both these 
well-rounded names would finally be exchanged for "Clarence 
Hollow." Several townships were ready for sale on the Pur- 
chase, at least one of which was in Erie county. This was 
township twelve, range six, comprising the south part of the 
present town of Clarence. Though township twelve, range five, 
(Newstead,) lay directly east, no sales are recorded as made in it 
till the latter part of the year. 

Very slowly, at first, the settlement went forward. The land 
was offered at $2.75 per acre, ten per cent. down. But precisely 
there — on the ten per cent. — was the sticking-point. Men with 
even a small amount of money were unwilling to undertake the 
task of clearing up the forests, or even the "oak openings," of 
the Holland Purchase. Those who wished to buy had no money. 

In a letter to Mr. Busti, dated Feb. 17, 1801, Mr. EUicott 
says: "If some mode could be devised to grant land to actual 
settlers, who cannot pay in advance, and at the same time not 
destroy that part of the plan which requires some advance, I 
am convinced the most salutary results would follow." A rather 
difficult task, to dispense with the advance and yet retain the 
plan which required an advance. Mr. Ellicott does not solve the 
problem, but he seems to have been authorized to set aside the 


plan, for the time, for we soon find him selHng without receiving 
the ten per cent, in advance. 

It may be doubted whether it would not have been better, 
both for the company and the settlers, if the general agent had 
insisted on the original system. Settlement would have been 
slower at first, but it must have come ere long and it would have 
had a firmer foundation. If a man cannot raise thirty or forty 
dollars to make a first payment on a farm, it is very doubtful 
whether he will make the whole amount off from the land. 
Many did, but many failed. 

There was, however, competition in every direction. There 
were large tracts yet unsold in the eastern and central parts of 
the State. "New Connecticut," now known as the Western Re- 
serve, in Ohio, was in market at low rates, the same was the 
case with Presque Isle, (Erie,) and in Canada the British govern- 
ment was granting lands at sixpence per acre. 

The Ohio lands appear to have been a favorite with many. 
On the 26th of February, Mr. Ellicott notes in his diary that 
over forty people — men, women and children — lodged at Ran- 
som's the night before, moving principally to New Connecticut 
and Presque Isle. 

Still sales went forward, especially in the present county of 
Genesee, next to the older settlements on Phelps and Gor- 
ham's Purchase. Some emigrants had previously come to this 
section for the purpose of settling on the Holland Purchase, but 
finding the land not in market had temporarily located in Can- 
ada, while awaiting the completion of the surveys. Some of 
these now returned and others came in from the East. 

The first record of any person's purchasing' a piece of land in 
Erie county in the regular course of settlement, and aside from 
the special grants before mentioned, is that of Christopher Sad- 
dler, who took a contract, or "article," on the 12th of March, 
1 80 1, for 234 acres on lots i and 2, section 6, town 12, range 6 ; 
being about a mile east of Clarence Hollow. 

And here I may say that there is no certain record of the 
^J coming of the first settlers to the various towns. The books 
of the Holland Company only show when men agreed to pur- 
chase land, not when they actually settled. 

After a short time an arrangement was made by which land 


was " booked " to men who appeared to be reliable, for a dollar 
payment on each piece, when it would be kept for them a year 
before they were required to make their first payment and take 
an article. It soon became common for speculative persons to 
invest a little money in that way, in the hope of selling at a 
profit. Sometimes, too, men came from the East, looked up 
land and purchased in good^-faith, but did not occupy it for a 
year or two later. Once in a while, too, though this was more 
rare, a man located in the county without buying land. 

Consequently the records of the Holland Company are very 
unreliable as to dates in regard to individuals. Moreover, I 
have obtained my information from certified copies of the com- 
pany's books on file in Erie county clerk's office. These differ 
widely from the list of purchasers given in "Turner's Holland 
Purchase," also purporting to be copied from the company's 
books. Still, by comparing the two, and by eking them out with 
the recollections of old residents, I think I can give a tolerably 
clear idea of the general progress of settlement. 

Besides Mr. Saddler, among those who took lands in Clarence 
in 1801 were John Haines, Levi Felton and Timothy S. Hop- 
kins. Of these Mr. Hopkins wks, as before stated, already a 
resident, and Mr. Felton probably became one that year. 

The. road along the old Indian trail, from Batavia to Buffalo, 
was not satisfactory to Mr. Ellicott. So in March he made an 
arrangement with an Indian whom he called " White Seneca," 
but whom that Indian's son called " White Chief," to lay out 
and mark with his hatchet a new one on dryer land. He agreed 
to give ten dollars, and eight dollars for locating a road in a 
similar manner from Eleven-Mile creek, (Williamsville,) via the 
" mouth of the Tonnawanta " to " Old Fort Slo.sher." 

White Chief began on the 21st day of March, and on the 
26th reported the completion of the survey of the first road. 
On the 28th Mr. Ellicott inspected a part of it, and appears 
to have been well pleased with the way in which the aboriginal 
engineer had followed the ridges and avoided the wet land. 

In June another youthful stranger came to the Ransom hotel, 
in the person of Asa Ransom, Jr., the second white male born 
in the county, who still survives, an opulent and well-known 
resident of Grand Island. Mr. Ransom,- senior, announced the 


addition in a note to Mr. Ellicott, which the author of the His- 
tory of the Holland Purchase mistakenly supposes to refer to 
the birth of Harry B. Ransom,. who was a year and a half older. 
Thus, as far as known, Mr. and Mrs. Asa Ransom made all three 
of the first contributions to the white population of Erie county. 
However, there were some older children at the little settle- 
ment which the Holland Company had named " New Amster- 
dam," but which the inhabitants insisted on calling " Buffalo." 
Though there were but very few families, and the village was 
not yet surveyed so that lots could be bought, yet the people 
felt a laudable desire for educational privileges, and in August 
Joseph R. Palmer, brother of the tavern-keeper, applied to Mr. 
Ellicott on behalf of the inhabitants for the privilege of erecting 
a school-house on the company's land. 

He said the New York Missionary Society offered to furnish 
a school-master clear of expense, except boarding, and urged 
an immediate answer on the ground that the inhabitants had 
the timber " ready to hew out." Timber " ready to hew out " 
was a very common article on the Holland Purchase at that 
time, and its possession did not argue much of an advance in 
the construction of a building. 

It shows how little root the company's name of " New Am- 
sterdam " took among the people that, although Mr. Richards 
was asking a favor of the company's agent, yet he dated his 
letter at " Buffalo." 

Mr. Ellicott went thither a few days later, and laid off a lot 
for school purposes. No deed was given, however, and it does not 
appear that any school-house was built for several years after. 
Part of the time the log house formerly occupied by Middaugh 
was used as a school house. 

In the summer of 1801, the surveyor, John Thompson, put up 
a saw-mill at what is now Williamsville. He does not, however, 
seem to have done much with it, and perhaps did not get it into 
operation. If he did, it was soon abandoned. The same year 
he built a block-house for a dwelling. It was afterwards clap- 
boarded, and a larger frame structure erected beside it, of which 
it formed the wing. The whole is still standing, a venerable 
brown edifice, known as the " Evans house," and the wing is un- 
questionably the oldest building in Erie county. 

io8 chapin's project. ' 

Only just three quarters of a century since it was built, and 
yet, in this county of more than two hundred thousand inhabi- 
tants, it seems a very marvel of antiquity. 

In the autumn of this year Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, a physician 
some thirty years old, then residing in Oneida county, came to 
Buffalo, and was so well pleased with the location that, on his 
return, he got forty substantial citizens to associate themselves 
with him, for the purpose of buying the whole township at the 
mouth of Buffalo creek. As EUicott, however, had already 
fixed on that as " the favorite spot " for building a city, the am- 
bitious project of Dr. Chapin was promptly rejected. 

By November, 1801, township 12, range 5, (Newstead,) was 
ready for sale, and on the third of that month Asa Chapman 
made the first contract for land in that town, covering lot 10, in 
section 8, at $2.75 per acre. If he settled there he remained 
but a short time, as not long after he was living near Buffalo. 

The same month, Peter Vandeventer took four lots in sec- 
tions Eight and Nine, on which he settled almost immediately 
afterwards, and which was long known as the "Old Vandeventer 
Place." Timothy Jayne was another purchaser in Newstead 
that year. Otis Ingalls was already there, and probably Orlando 
Hopkins and David Cully came that year, though one account 
postpones their purchases till 1802. 

The last month of 1801 witnessed the first appointment of a 
white official of any description, resident within the present 
county of Erie. In that month the pioneer silversmith, tavern- 
keeper and father, Asa Ransom, was commissioned a justice' of 
the peace by Governor George Clinton, the necessary document 
being transmitted by De Witt Clinton, nephew and private sec- 
retary of the governor. 



1802 AND 1803. 

Formation of Genesee County.— An Exciting Scene.— Red Jacket's Plea.— First 
Town Meeting.— Primitive Balloting.— The Big Tree Road. —Buffalo Sur- 
veyed. — Original Street Names.— Ellicott's Grand Design. — Dr. Chapin.— 
Erastus Granger. — Conjockety's Exploit. — The Pioneer of the South Towns. 
— A Hard Trip. — Snow Shoes. 

Up to this time Ontario county had retained its original 
boundaries, including all that part of the State west of Seneca 
lake, except that Steuben county had been taken off. The 
Holland Purchase was a part of the town of Northampton. 

In the spring of 1802, Mr. Ellicott, by earnest personal sohci- 
tation at Albany, procured the passage of an act creating the 
county of Genesee, comprising the whole of the State west of 
the river of that name and of a line running south from the 
" Great Forks." By the same act Northampton was divided 
into four towns, one of which, Batavia, consisted of the whole 
Holland Purchase and the State reservation along the Niagara. 

The county seat was established at Batavia, where Mr. Elli- 
cott had already laid out a village site, and whither he trans- 
ferred his head-quarters that same spring. The new county was 
not to be organized by the appointment of officers until the 
next year. 

In July an event occurred in Buffalo, which probably shook 
/ the nerves of its people more than any other occurrence before 
the war of 1812. John Palmer, the. innkeeper, was sitting on a 
bench in front of his house one evening, in company with one 
William Ward and another man, when a young Seneca warrior, 
called by the whites " Stiff-armed George," approached, and en- 
deavored to stab Palmer. It is said that no provocation was 
given, but perhaps there had been some previous difficulty be- 
tween them. 

failing to injure Palmer, who evaded the attack, the infuri- 
ated savage turned upon Ward, and stabbed him in the neck, 


though not fatally. An alarm was raised, the whites hurried to 
the spot, and at length secured the assassin, but not until he had 
inflicted three wounds on one of their number, named John 
Hewitt, killing him almost instantly. The Indian himself was 
also wounded. 

Different and contradictory statements have been published 
regarding this affair, but the culprit was probably sent off that 
night to Fort Niagara, and taken in charge by Major Moses 
Porter, who was then in command. The next day fifty or sixty 
warriors appeared in Buffalo, armed and painted, threatening if 
"Stiff-armed George" was executed to put all the whites to 
death. Finding where some of his blood had been spilled in 
securing him, they held a grand pow-wow over it, howling fiercely, 
brandishing their weapons, and frightening half out of their 
wits all but the boldest of the settlers. 

So great was the dismay that it is said some left the settle- 
ment, though where they could go for safety it would be diffi- 
cult to say. Benjamin Barton, Jr., then sheriff of Ontario coun- 
ty, {Genesee not being organized,) was in the vicinity or arrived 
soon afterwards. He proposed to serve a criminal precept on 
the Indian and take him to Canandaigua jail. This his breth- 
ren fiercely opposed. They said that the young warrior was 
drunk when the offense was committed, and should not, therefore, 
be punished as if he had been sober. Even this the whites de- 
nied, claiming that he was entirely sober when he committed 
the crime, though of course it would make no difference in law. 

Finally Barton and some of the chiefs went to Fort Niagara 
to consult with Major Porter. Arriving there they still persisted 
that their brother should not be taken like a thief to Canandai- 
gua jail, and probably Barton was not desirous of the job of 
escorting him through the wilderness. 

They pledged their words as chiefs that he should appear at 
Canandaigua for trial on the appointed day, and the stoty is 
that on these pledges he was allowed to depart, and that he ap- 
peared punctually on the day set. Certain it is that he was 
duly tried at the Canandaigua Oyer and Terminer, the next 

Red Jacket addressed the jury through an interpreter, plead- 
ing the drunkenness of the culprit as an excuse, and descanting 


eloquently on the many murders of Indians by white men, for 
which no punishment had ever been meted out. Nevertheless, 
"Stiff-armed George" was convicted. He was, however, par- 
doned on condition of his leaving the State, by Gov. Clinton, 
who probably thought it would be better to wait till the country 
was more thickly settled before beginning to hang Indians, if it 
could possibly be avoided. 

During 1802, emigration began to come in quite freely. The 
list of land-owners in what is now Clarence was increased by 
the names of Gardner Spooner, Abraham Shope, John Warren, 
Frederick Buck, John Gardner, Resolved G. Wheeler, William 
Updegraff, Edward Carney and Elias Ransom. Most of these 
located permanently in that town, among them Abraham Shope, 
a Pennsylvania German, who had been waiting in Canada a year 
or two for the Holland Purchase to be opened for sale. His son 
Abraham, then three years old, who still survives in a remarka- 
bly robust old age, says he can barely remember of living in a 
tent in the woods that summer, before the family moved into 
the log house which his father had erected. 

The same year land in township Twelve, range Five,(Newstead,) 
was charged to John Hill, Samuel Hill, William Deshay and 
others, rriOst of whom soon became permanent residents. 

All the persons thus far named settled either on or close to 
the old "Buffalo road," laid out by "White Chief," which was 
the only line of communication with the outside world. 

Peter Vandeventer this year built him a log cabin, cleared up 
half an acre of land, ("just enough" as another old settler said 
"to keep the trees from falling on his house,") and opened a 
tavern, the first in Newstead. 

At that little log tavern, on the first day of March, 1803, oc- 
curred the first town-meeting on the Holland Purchase. Al- 
though it was a hundred miles to the farthest corner of the 
town of Batavia, yet the settlements were almost all on or near 
the "Buffalo road," the farthest being at New Amsterdam, twen- 
ty-two miles west, and at the East Transit, twenty-four miles 
east. Vandeventer's was evidently selected as a central location. 

A very interesting account of this, the first political transac- 
tion in Erie county, was furnished to the Buffalo Historical 
Society by the late Amzi Wright, of Attica, who was present. 


There was a general turn-out of voters, apparently stimulated 
by rivalry between the eastern and western parts of the town. 
The little tavern was soon overrun, and the polls were opened 
out of doors by Enos Kellogg, one of the commissioners to or- 
ganize the town. He announced that Teter Vandeventer, the 
landlord, and Jotham Bemis, of Batavia village, were candidates 
for .supervisor. 

The worthy commissioner then proceeded to take the vote by 
a method which, though it amounted to a "division of the 
house," was in some of its details quite peculiar. He placed the 
two candidates side by side in the middle of the road, facing 
southward, Vandeventer on the right and Bemis on the left. 

"Now," said he, "all you that are in favor of Peter Vandeven- 
ter for supervisor of the town of Batavia take your places in 
line on his right, and you that are in favor of Jotham Bemis 
take your places on his left." 

The voters obeyed Mr. Kellogg's directions, Bemis' line 
stretching out along the road to Batavia, and Vandeve'nter's 
toward Buffalo. The commissioner then counted them, finding 
seventy-four on Vandcventer's right, and seventy on Bemis' left. 
Peter Vandeventer was then declared duly elected. A primitive 
method truly, but there was a poor chance for fraudulent voting. 

The men from east. of Vandeventer's, who were considered as 
Batavians, then gathered in one cluster, and those from the 
west, who passed as Buffalonians, in another, and counted up 
the absentees. As in those times everybody knew everybody 
else within ten miles of him, this was not difficult. 

It was found that but four were absent, Batavia way, and but 
five from the Buffalo crowd. So the whole number of voters on 
the Holland Purchase on the ist day of March, 1803, was one 
hundred and fifty-three, of whom a hundred and forty-four were 
present at town-meeting. Certainly a most creditable exhibition 
of attention to political duty. There were probably two or three 
voters in the vicinity of Fort Niagara who did not attend, but 
these, although in the town of Batavia, were not on the Holland 

The other officers were afterwards elected by the uplifted hand. 
The following is the complete list : 

Supervisor, Peter Vandeventer ; Town Clerk, David Cully ; 


Assessors, Enos Kellogg, Asa Ransom, Alexander Rea, Isaac 
Sutherland, and Suffrenus (or Sylvanus) Maybee ; Overseers of 
the Poor, David Cully and Benjamin Porter ; Collector, Abel 
Rowe ; Constables, John Mudge, Levi Felton, Rufus Hart, Abel 
Rowe, Seymour Kellogg and Hugh Howell ; Overseers of High- 
ways, (pathmasters,) Martin Middaugh, Timothy S. Hopkins, 
Orlando Hopkins, Benjamin Morgan, Rufus Hart, Lovell 
Churchill, Jabez Warren, William Blackman, Samuel Clark, 
Gideon Dunham, Jonathan Willard, Thomas Layton, Hugh 
Howell, Benjamin Porter, and William Walsworth. 

Of these Vandeventer, Cully, Ransom, Maybee, Felton, Timo- 
thy and Orlando Hopkins, and Middaugh, and perhaps others, 
were residents of Erie county. 

At this town-meeting, as at most others in Western New 
York at that time, one of the most important subjects which 
claimed the attention of the sovereigns was the wolf-question. 
An ordinance was passed offering a bounty of five dollars for 
wolf-scalps, "whelps half price," while half a dollar each was the 
reward for slaughtered foxes and wild cats. 

The first State election on the Holland Purchase was also 
held at Vandeventer's in April following, (in which month elec- 
tions were then held,) and in that short time the -increase of 
population had been such that a hundred and eighty-nine votes 
were cast for member of assembly. 

In June, 1803, Jabez Warren, by contract with Ellicott, sur- 
veyed the "Middle road" from near Geneseo to Lake Erie. After- 
wards, during the same summer, he cut it out. It ran nearly due 
west over hill and dale, keeping a mile south of the south line 
of the reservation, occasionally diverging a little in case of some 
extraordinary obstacle. 

It was called the " Middle road " by the company, but as it 
started from the Big Tree reservation — that is, the one belong- 
ing to the band of Indians of which " Big Tree " was chief — it 
was almost universally called the " Big Tree road " by the in- 

Mr. Warren received $2.50 per mile for surveying it, and. 
$10.00 for cutting it out. The latter seems astonishingly cheap, 
but " cutting out " a road on the Holland Purchase meant 
merely cutting away the underbrush and small trees from a 


space a rod wide, leaving the large trees standing, making a 
track barely passable for a wagon. 

This year, too, the first ship was built in the county by Ameri- 
cans. It was the schooner " Contractor," built by a company 
having the contracts for supplying the western military posts, 
under the superintendence of Captain William Lee, who sailed 
the schooner for six years. 

In this year the village of New Amsterdam was surveyed, 
(though not completed ready for sale,) by William Peacock. It 
gives a most vivid idea of what remarkable changes may occur 
in a single life to learn that the man who did that work in 1803, 
who ran the very first street-line in the city of Buffalo, is still liv- 
ing. From a very early period Mr. Peacock has been a citizen of 
Chautauqua county, of which he has been a judge, and now re- 
sides at Mayville, at the age of ninety-six. His life completely 
spans the space between the forest and the emporium. 

As laid out, the village extended on the west to the State 
reservation before described ; north to an east and west line 
nearly coincident with Virginia street, and east to a north and 
south line running along or very close to the present Jefferson 
street. Near the creek the reservation was for a short distance 
the southeast boundary of the village. 

About an eighth of this tract was cut up into " inner lots," 
generally about four rods and a half wide, intended for commer- 
cial purposes, while the rest were divided into " outer lots " of 
several acres each, suited for suburban residences. 

The inner-lot tract was bounded west and southwest by the 
State reservation and the Terrace, south by Little Buffalo creek, 
(now Hamburg street canal,) east by EUicott street, (except 
where outer lot 104 came to Main street,) and north by Chip- 
pewa street. 

In these descriptions I have used the present names of streets 
in order to give a clearer idea of the localities. Originally, how- 
ever, the names were almost all different. Ellicott determined 
to compliment his employers of the Holland Company to the 
best of his ability, and also the Iroquois preoccupants of the 

Main street, as far up as Church, was called Willink avenue, 
while above Church it was Van Staphorst avenue. Niagara 


street was Schimmelpenninck avenue, Erie street Vollenhoven 
avenue, Court street Cazenove avenue, Church street Stadnitzki 
avenue, and Genesee street Busti avenue. Signer Paul Busti, 
ElHcott's immediate superior, and his predecessor, Theophilus 
Cazenove, were both doubly honored, as, in addition to their re- 
spective avenues, the Terrace above Erie street was called Busti 
terrace, and below it Cazenove terrace. (Ellicott also pro- 
posed to call the village of Batavia " Bustiville," but the general 
agent himself forbade this as " too ferocious.") 

The Indians were as amply honored as the Hollanders, 
though in their case the designations were taken from tribes in- 
stead of individuals. What is now Ellicott street was then 
Oneida street. Washington street was Onondaga, Pearl was 
Cayuga, Franklin was Tuscarora, while Morgan street rejoiced 
in the terrible designation of Missisauga. 

Delaware, Huron, Mohawk, Eagle, Swan and Seneca streets 
received their present names, but Exchange was then called 
Crow street, in honor of John Crow, who had taken the place of 
John Palmer as the only hotel-keeper. His tavern, part log and 
and part frame, was just east of the site of the Mansion House. 
In its numerous diagonal streets, all radiating from a common 
point, Buffalo bears a strong resemblance to Washington, wTiich 
Ellicott had helped his brother to survey, and it is to be pre- 
sumed the later plan was adopted from the former one, whether 
originating with Joseph Ellicott or his brother Andrew. 

North Division and South Division streets had no existence 
in the original plan. Between Swan and Eagle, fronting on Main 
and running back about a mile, was " Outer Lot 104," contain- 
ing one hundred acres. This Mr. Ellicott reserved for himself 
He evidently intended to be the principal personage in the city 
he was designing. 

Neither Onondaga nor Oneida street was allowed to cross the 
sacred soil of Lot 104, though both were laid out north of it, 
and Oneida south. Even the grand Willink-Van Staphorst ave- 
nue deviated from its course for the benefit of Lot 104. At the 
intersection of Stadnitzki avenue, the great central street de- 
scribed a small semi-circle, with a radius of several rods, curving 
to the westward over the open ground before " the churches," 
leaving Lot 104 with something like a bay-window on its front. 

ii6 ellicott's grand design. 

Here Mr. ElHcott intended to erect a palatial residence, in 
the center of the city he had founded, with broad vistas open- 
ing before it in every possible direction. 

Up Van Staphorst avenue to the suburban hillside on the 
north, up Schimmelpenninck avenue to the elegant residences 
which were to cluster around Niagara square, along Stadnitzki 
avenue to the State reservation, down Willink avenue to the 
harbor, and especially down Vollenhoven avenue to the lake, the 
eye of the magnate of New Amsterdam was to roam at will, 
seeing everywhere the prosperity of the city which owed its ex- 
istence to his sagacity. 

If a somewhat selfish, it was certainly a magnificent conception. 
It is said, also, to have been his declared intention, after occu- 
pying it during his life, to devise the whole to the city for a per- 
manent park and museum. The circumstances which prevented 
the realization of this idea will be mentioned in due time. 

David Reese, a blacksmith long well known by the early res- 
idents, came to Buffalo in 1803, and John Despar, a French 
baker, about the same time. 
^ A much more important acquisition was Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, 

who, though he had failed in his attempt to become the princi- 
pal owner of Buffalo, manifested his faith in the location, in 1803, 
by moving thither with his family. Being unable to obtain a 
house, he took them over the river, where they remained two 
years before one was secured. Meanwhile the doctor prac- 
ticed on both sides, being, so far as known, the first physician 
who did practice in Erie county. 

For twelve years no man exercised a greater influence in the 
village of Buffalo than Dr. Chapin ; perhaps none as great. He 
was of that type which naturally succeeds in a new country ; 
bold, resolute and energetic to the last degree, generous and 
free-hearted with his fellows, but often reckless alike of the con- 
ventionalities of society and of the consequences of his acts. 
Self-confident and self-willed, he was always sure he was right, 
and was consequently always ready to go ahead. Like most 
men of that stamp, he had many warm friends and some bitter 
enemies, but through all the vicissitudes of his career he re- 
tained the confidence of a majority of his neighbors and 


On his arrival in Buffalo he was a robust, broad-shouldered 
man of thirty, recently married, overflowing with physical and 
mental vigor. In his politics, as in everything else, he was a 
violent partisan, and his Federalism was of the most rampant 

Another important arrival of that year was an equally decided 
if not so violent a Democrat — or Republican, for the anti-federal 
of that day was called by both names. This was Erastus Gran- 
ger, a young widower from New England, and a cousin of Gid- 
eon Granger, then postmaster-general under President Jefferson. 
He was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs, and soon 
afterwards postmaster, and appears to have been intrusted with 
the management of the politics of this section on behalf of the 

Though New Amsterdam was not yet ready for sale, the ad- 
joining land in that township was, and among the purchasers in 
it I find the names of Cyrenius Chapin, William Desha, Samuel 
Tupper, Joseph Wells and James S. Young. The prices ranged 
from $3.50 to $5.00 per acre. 

At this period a Major Perry had made an opening at the 
point where Main street crosses Scajaquada (or Conjockety) 
creek. Near its mouth was the Indian family of Conjockety. 
An anecdote related to me by Mr. William Hodge shows 
that, whatever jests may be passed upon the " noble red man," 
he certainly does sometimes display great coolness and courage. 

On arising one winter morning. Major Perry found that one 
of his hogs had been killed, and either eaten or carried off. 
Seeing the snow around well marked with panther's tracks, he 
of course concluded that one of those animals had been the de- 
stroyer. He sent for Philip Conjockety, whom I suppose to 
have been a son of old " Skendyoughwatti," mentioned by Mr. 
Kirkland. Conjockety came and took the trail. 

For awhile he supposed that there was but one animal, so 
closely did the footsteps follow each other, but at length he saw 
where two panthers had gone, one on each side of a tree. This 
rather startled him, but he concluded to go forward. Shortly 
afterwards he came upon one of the marauders, seated among 
the topmost branches of a tree, eating a piece of the captured 
hog. Lifting his rifle, Conjockety shot the animal dead. 


The Other was not then in sight, but the Indian instantly re- 
loaded and stepped cautiously forward. In a moment more he 
was confronted by the angry beast, on the point of springing 
upon him. Again taking rapid aim, he fired as the panther was 
in the very act of leaping, and the next instant the slain animal 
fell at the feet of the intrepid hunter. 

" Ugh ! " exclaimed Conjockety, as he recounted the tale, 
" some scare me ! " 

Of course the Indian told his own story, but he had the two 
panthers to show for it. 

In township 12, range 7, (Amherst,) sales were made that fall 
to Samuel Kelsy, Henry Lake, Benjamin Gardner, William 
Lewis and others, the price being put as high as $3.25 and 
$3.50 per acre. Settlements commenced immediately after- 

This year too, I find the names of Samuel Beard, William 
Chapin, Asahel Powers, Jacob Durham and Samuel Edsall, re- 
corded as purchasers in Newstead, and of Andrew Dummett, 
Julius Keyes, Lemuel Harding, Jacob Shope, Zerah Ensign and 
others in Clarence. 

All these settlements were in the townships through which 
the "Buffalo road" ran. But the hardy pioneers soon bore far- 
ther south in their search for land. In November, 1803, Alan- 
son Eggleston became the first purchaser in township Eleven, 
range Six (now Lancaster). There the land was put down to 
$2 per acre. Amos Woodward and William Sheldon also bought 
in Lancaster that month. 

All these were north of the Buffalo Creek reservation, which 
cut the present county of Erie completely in twain. Several 
townships, however, were surveyed south of the reservation that 
year, and in the fall adventurous land-hunters found theia^ way 
into the valley of Eighteen-Mile creek. 

On the 3d of October, Didymus C. Kinney purchased part of 
lot Thirty-three, township Nine, range Seven, being now the south- 
west corner lot of the town of East Hamburg. He immediate- 
ly built him a cabin, and lived there with his family during the 
winter, being unquestionably the earliest pioneer of all Erie 
county, south of the reservation. Records and recollections 
agree on this point. 


Cotton Fletcher, who had surveyed the southern townships, 
purchased land in the same township as Kinney, but did not 
locate there till later ; neither did John Cummings, who took up 
the mill-site a mile and a half below Water Valley. 

In November, 1803, too, Charles and Oliver Johnson, two 
brothers, made a purchase in the present town of Boston, near 
the village of Boston Center. Samuel Eaton bought farther 
down the creek. The price was $2.25 per acre. Charles, with 
his family, lived with Kinney through the winter, and moved on 
to his own place the next spring. 

The Indians were frequently a resource of the early settlers 
who ran short of food. Charles Johnson, while at Kinney's, 
went to the Seneca village and bought six bushels of corn. He 
had snow-shoes for locomotion and a hand-sled for transporta- 
tion. As a load of three hundred and forty pounds sank the 
sled too far into the deep snow, he slung part of it on his back, 
and thus weighted and freighted he trudged through the forest 
to his home. 

The snow-shoe was an important institution of that era. It 
consisted of a light, wooden frame, about two and a half feet 
long and fifteen inches wide, with bars across it, the intervening 
spaces being filled with tightly stretched green hide. With a 
pair of such articles strapped to his feet, the hunter or traveler 
strode defiantly over the deepest drifts, into which, without their 
support, he would have sunk to his waist at every step. Strange 
as it may seem, too, old hunters declare that these forest gun- 
boats did not seriously impede locomotion, and that the accus- 
tomed wearer could travel from three to four miles an hour with- 
out difficulty. 

Kinney and Johnson with their families, in that solitary cabin 
in the valley of the Eighteen-Mile, were the only residents of 
Erie county south of the reservation in the winter of 1803-4. 


1804 AND 1805. 

Division of Batavia.—Willink.— Erie.— Settlement of Boston.— An Ancient Fort. 
— Ezekiel Smith. —David Eddy.— A Bride of 1804.— Aurora.— Jabez War- 
ren.— Joel Adams.— A Hand-sled Journey.— Lancaster.— Le Couteulx.— A 
Strange Object.— The Pratt Family.— A Contest of Courtesy.— First Post 
Office.— Organization of Willink.— Erie Town-Book.— A Primitive Mill.— 
Deacon Gary.— William Warren.— First Grist Mill.— Williamsville. 

The year 1 804 was marked by a more decided advance than any 
previous one. 

Turning first to municipal matters, we find that the town- 
meeting for Batavia was again held at Peter Vandeventer's, and 
that popular landlord was again chosen supervisor. 

But at that session of the legislature a law was passed, (to 
take effect the next February,) dividing Batavia into four towns. 
The easternmost was Batavia, consisting of the first, second and 
third ranges of the Holland Purchase. Next came Willink, 
containing the fourth, fifth and sixth ranges. Then Erie, com- 
prising the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth ranges, the State 
reservation and the adjacent waters. The rest of the Purchase 
constituted the town of Chautauqua. 

It will be seen that Willink, as thus organized, was eighteen 
miles wide and just about a hundred miles long, extending from 
Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania. It contained one range of town- 
ships east of Erie county, the eastern parts of Niagara and 
Cattaraugus counties, and the present towns of Clarence, New- 
stead, Lancaster, Alden, Elma, Marilla, Aurora, Wales, Colden, 
Holland, Sardinia and part of Concord. 

The West Transit was the line between Willink and " Erie," 
which last town also stretched the whole width of the State. 
At its southern end it was twenty-four miles wide, but it was 
narrowed by the lake and the Canadian boundary, so that .its 
northern half was only from eight to twenty miles wide. It 
comprised one short range of townships in Chautauqua county. 


the western part of Niagara and Cattaraugus, and in Erie county 
the city of Buffalo and the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, 
Amherst, Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Hamburg, East Ham- 
burg, Evans, Eden, Boston, Brant, North Collins, Collins, and 
the west part of Concord. 

This town of Erie has had a somewhat curious history, having 
been completely obliterated not only from the list of political 
organizations, but from the memories of its own oldest inhabi- 
tants. The story of its early annihilation will be told in due 

Next to East Hamburg, Boston was the first town settled 
south of the reservation. In March, 1804, Charles Johnson, 
having erected a cabin, left his friend Kinney's and moved four 
miles farther into the wilderness. His brother Oliver, Samuel 
Eaton and Samuel Beebe followed a little later. 

The Johnsons and some of their neighbors had less trouble 
clearing their land than most settlers in the south towns. Where 
they located, close to Boston Center, there was a prairie of fifty 
acres. Close by there was another which occupied thirty acres 
except a few trees, and there were some smaller ones. In the 
thirty-acre one there was an old fort, enclosing a space of about 
two and a half acres. It consisted of an embankment which 
even then was two feet high, with a ditch on the outside nearly 
two feet deep. There were a few trees growing on the embank- 
ment, one of them being a chestnut from two to two and a half 
feet in diameter. 

From this fort there was a narrow artificial road running 
southwest nearly to Hamburg village. On dry ground little 
work had been done, but on wet land the evidences that a road 
had been made were plain for a long time. From Hamburg 
village to the lake there is a narrow natural ridge, suitable for a 
road, and on which one is actually laid out, called the " Ridge 

It looks as if some band of Indians, (or of some other race,) had 
preferred to reside on the lake shore for pleasure and conven- 
ience, but had constructed this fortress between the hills, with a 
road leading to it, as a place of safety from their foes. 

In this vicinity, as elsewhere throughout the county, were found 
large numbers of sharpened flint-stones, with which it was sup- 


122 A BRIDE OF 1804. 

posed the Indians skinned deer. The largest were six or seven 
inches long and two inches broad, the sides being oval and the 
edges sharpened. If the Indians had ever used them, as seems 
probable, they had thrown them aside as soon as knives were 
brought among them by the Europeans. 

I think that John Cummings located himself this spring on 
his land below Water Valley, becoming the first settler in the 
present town of Hamburg. 

That same spring Deacon Ezekiel Smith came from Vermont, 
with his two sons, Richard and Daniel, and bought a tract of 
land two miles southeast of Kinney's, in what has since been 
known as the Newton neighborhood. A young man named 
David Eddy came with him and selected land near Potter's 
Corners. Smith returned for his family, leaving his sons to 
clear land. 

In September he came back, with his wife, several daughters, 
and two or three others, and five more sons, Amasa, Ezekiel, 
Zenas, Amiah and Almon. Such a family was of itself enough 
to start a pretty good settlement. Four of the seven sons were 
married. With them came another big Vermont family, headed 
by Amos Colvin, with his sons Jacob, George, Luther, Amos 
and Isaac. 

One of Deacon Smith's daughters, Sarah, was then a bHde of 
seventeen, the wife of Jacob Colvin. She is still living, at the 
age of eighty-nine, and well-known throughout East Hamburg 
as "Aunt Sarah Colvin." When I saw her in the summer of 
187s, she was perfectly erect, active about the house, and showed 
less of the marks of age than most women of seventy. More 
than the allotted span of man's life has passed away since she 
came, a married woman, into the wilderness ; she has seen the 
wolves and bears prowling around the cabins of the earliest set- 
tlers; she has seen the forest give place to broad and fertile 
fields ; she passed, more than sixty years ago, through the 
alarms of border war, and still remains a remarkable example 
of the vigorous pioneer women of Erie county. 

With the same colony came David Eddy, his brother Aaron, 
and his brother-iti-law Nathan Peters, with his sister Mary as 
housekeeper. Mrs. Colvin in describing the journey mentions 
that Mary Eddy, a young woman of some education, and a 


pioneer school-teacher in both Hamburg and Aurora, walked 
every step of the way from Buffalo to Kinney's place on the 

The Eddys went to the land selected by David near East 
Hamburg village, and were the first settlers in that vicinity. 
John Sumner moved there that year or the next. Obadiah 
Baker bought there that year, and soon became a permanent 

In June, 1804, Joel Harvey located at the mouth of the Eight- 
een-Mile on the west side, being the first settler in the present 
town of Evans, and the farthest one up the lake in the county 
of Erie. 

Meanwhile another settlement had been commenced farther 
east. Jabez Warren, when cutting out the Big Tree road, must 
have been extremely well pleased with the land about Aurora, 
for on the 17th of April, 1804, he took a contract for four entire 
lots, comprising the greater part of the site of the village of 
East Aurora, and a large territory adjoining it on the north and 
west. The tract contained 1,743 acres, being the largest amount 
purchased in the county by one person at any one time. The 
price was $2 per acre. 

The same day Nathaniel Emerson, Henry Godfrey, (a son-in- 
law of Warren,) Nathaniel Walker, John Adams and Joel Adams 
took contracts covering the whole creek valley, for three miles 
above East Aurora, at $1.50 per acre. This was the cheapest 
that any land was sold in the county, though it included some 
of the best. 

In May Rufus and Taber Earl located in the southeast cor- 
ner of East Aurora village. Joseph Sears is said to have pur- 
chased lot 23, since known as "The Square," but though he 
afterward settled on it he remained but a short time. 

Four or five other persons made purchases during the summer, 
but out of the whole list, though most of them became perma- 
nent residents, only one, Joel Adams, remained with his family 
through the winter. Taber Earl, however, built him a house 
and moved into it immediately after buying his land. His wife 
was the pioneer woman in the county, south of the reservation 
and east of the West Transit. But Earl with his family win- 
tered in Buffalo. 


Warren cleared a small space and built him a log house at 
the west end of East Aurora, but did not occupy it that year. 

Joel Adams, already a middle-aged man, built him a cabin on 
his land, where he worked alone through the summer. In the 
fall he brought on his family, except the oldest son. Besides 
him there were five hardy boys. On his way Mr. Adams was 
obliged to leave a bag of meal at a mill near Warsaw, the hor- 
rible roads being impassable for any but the lightest loads. 

In the winter the family ran out of breadstuff's. Thereupon 
the two oldest boys set out on foot after that bag of meal, 
twenty-five miles away. They secured the prize and brought it 
through in safety on a hand-sled, though the necessary slowness 
of their progress compelled them to sleep out one or two nights 
in the snow. 

Such were the tasks of the youth of that period. Hardship, 
however, does not seem to have had any deleterious efifects on 
the Adams boys, for three of them, Enos, Luther and Erasmus, 
lived to extreme old age, being well known to all citizens of 
Aurora. Erasmus, the youngest, still survives at the age of 
eighty-five, one of the most active men in town. On going to 
see him, a year ago, to get some reminiscences of his early life, 
I found he had taken a walk for exercise to a friend's some three 
miles distant ; so I was obliged to postpone the interview. 

In connection with the first settlement of Aurora, it may be 
noted that there, as in so many other places, were found indica- 
tions of ancient occupancy. A little north of the village of 
East Aurora, and close to the north line of the town, are sev- 
eral abrupt hills, almost surrounded by muddy ponds and by 
low grounds once undoubtedly covered with water. Two of 
these hills, thus conveniently situated for defense, were found 
fortified by circular breastworks, resembling those in Boston. 

There is also a tradition of bones of " giant size " being dug 
up there at an early day, but I am somewhat skeptical, not as 
to the bones, but the size. Exaggeration is extremely easy 
where there is no exact, scientific measurement. 

Silas Hill, John Felton, Thomas Hill, Charles Bennett, Cyrus 
Hopkins and others were added to the list of purchasers in 
Newstead this year, and all of those named became permanent 


In Clarence, there were David Bailey, Peter Pratt, Isaac Van- 
orman, Daniel Robinson, Riley Munger, David Hamlin, Jr., and 
others. It was probably in 1804 that Asa Ransom built a saw- 
mill on the little stream to which his name had been given. 

Timothy S. and Orlando Hopkins removed to what is now 
Amherst this year, and among the new comers in that township 
were Samuel McConnell, who located near Williamsville, Caleb 
Rogers, Stephen Colvin, Jacob Vanatta, and Joel Chamberlain. 

Occasional German names will have been seen among the 
emigrants to the north towns. These, however, were all " Penn- 
sylvania Germans," or " Mohawk Dutch ;" that is, persons of Ger- 
man or Dutch descent, whose families had been established in 
Pennsylvania or the Mohawk Valley for two or more genera- 
tions. There was not then a solitary emigrant directly from Ger- 
many in the county, nor for a long time afterwards. 

Among the purchasers in Lancaster in 1804 were James 
Woodward, Warren Hull, Matthew Wing, Joel Parmalee and 
Lawson Egberton. Mr. James Clark, of Lancaster, states that 
he has ascertained that James and Amos Woodward were the 
first settlers in Lancaster, locating at Bowman's Mills, and it was 
probably in 1804 that they came. Hull, Eggleston, James and 
Luther Young, and Parmalee, all settled east of Bowman's 
Mills shortly after the Woodwards. 

In Buffalo there was a decided development during the year 
1804, and several men who exercised a strong influence for many 
years then became residents. 

One of these was Mr. LeCouteulx, whose full appellation was 
Louis Stephen Le Couteulx de Caumont, a French gentleman 
of good family, then forty-eight years of age, who had for sev- 
enteen years been a citizen of the United States. A gentle and 
genial spirit, his placid face, mild blue eyes, gray hair carefully 
parted in the middle, neat dress and precise manners seemed 
somewhat out of place amid the stumps, Indians and frontiers- 
men of New Amsterdam, yet his aimiability and integrity gained 
him many friends, and his good business habits procured him 
reasonable success, and in his old age even affluence. Soon 
after his arrival he built him a frame house on Crow (Exchange) 
street, near Willink avenue, where he resided, and in one part of 
which he established a drug-store, the first in the county. 


Some of the Buffalo land was as cheap as any in the county. 
N. W. Sever bought two outer lots containing sixty-four acres 
in the bend of the creek, south of the Ohio basin, for $ i .8 1 per acre. 

What is more remarkable, outer lot 84, comprising several 
acres between Willink avenue and Buffalo creek, (that is to say 
west of Main street,) now occupied by Central Wharf and long 
rows of warehouses, was sold in 1804 to Samuel McConnell for 
$1.50 per acre ! Sanguine as were Ellicott's ideas regarding the 
future of Buffalo, he supposed that the business would all be 
done north of the hill at Exchange street, and in one letter ex- 
pressed his belief that the flats below would, when drained, 
make excellent meadows ! 

Inner lots, near the corner of Willink avenue and Crow street, 
which was the centre of business, sold at one hundred to two 
hundred dollars each. Payments of $10 to $30 in hand were 
usually made, the rest being distributed through several install- 
ments. Merchant Maybee paid $135 for Lot 35, corner of Wil- 
link avenue and Seneca street, running through to Cayuga. He 
paid $15 down, $12 the next year, and then payment was stop- 
ped till 18 1 5, when some one else took a deed. 

Great care was taken to encourage actual settlers, and when 
Zerah Phelps bought inner lot No. i, lying just east of the site 
of the Mansion House, he had to agree to build a house twenty- 
four feet square, and clear off half an acre of land. Similar 
agreements were made with other city purchasers. 

Outside the village limits, but within the present city, Rowland 
Cotton bought a hundred and forty-three acres at what is now 
the corner of Main and Amherst streets, for $3.50 an acre. 

'Abner Gilbert took lot Thirty-four, now the southeast corner 
of Main and Utica streets, for five dollars an acre. There was 
an Abner Gilbert in the family whose captivity I have before 
related, and it is quite possible that he returned to inhabit the 
scene of his eai'ly hardships, though there is no evidence of it 
but the name. He certainly did not remain long. 

In accordance with the previous arrangement with Ellicott, 
though apparently it was somewhat modified, William Johnston 
received a deed of several valuable inner lots, and of outer lot 
93, comprising forty acres south of Crow and east of Onondaga 
(Washington) streets. 


One day in September, 1804, a hitherto unknown phenome- 
non came slowly swaying down Willink avenue, picking its way 
among the stumps, and curving around the hillocks in that 
primeval thoroughfare. It was a carriage — a private carriage — 
the first one ever seen in Erie county, and probably the first that 
ever crossed the Genesee. It was a most luxurious vehicle, ac- 
cording to the ideas of that day, new and strongly built, its drab- 
colored sides .splashed with the mud of numberless mudholes 
through which it had passed since leaving the far-off State of 

As it wended its tedious course down the wide highway now 
bordered by lofty blocks and palatial residences, we may be sure 
that from the few log cabins and diminutive frames on either 
side every head was thrust forth in scrutinizing wonder, while the 
red men who were ever strolling about the village uttered their 
" Ughs " with more than ordinary emphasis, as they gazed on 
this novel institution of the pale-faces. From the carriage win- 
dows peered the equally curious faces of several children, gazing 
with wide-open eyes at the strange scenes on either side, while 
behind them appeared a woman's thoughtful, perhaps saddened, 
features. One or two open wagons followed, containing some of 
the male members of the new family and an ample supply of 

The vehicles turned into Crow street, and halted before John 
Crow's log-and-frame mansion. The family which then alighted 
was one whose members and descendants have ever since, in 
successive generations, been prominent in the social and com- 
mercial history of Buffalo, that of Captain Samuel Pratt. 

While on his way to and from Detroit, on a fur-buying trip, in 
1802-3, Captain P. had been so strongly impressed with the 
commercial advantages of the little log village at the foot of 
Lake Erie that he determined to locate there, and engage in the 
fur-trade. As he had reached the age of forty, had a large 
family and was possessed of a comfortable property, his eastern 
friends thought his proposed removal little less than lunacy. 

He, however, persevered, had a carriage built on purpose, so 
that his family might be as comfortable as possible on their long 
journey, and in due time they drew up before Crow's tavern. 

As they did so they were met by Erastus Granger, the super- 


intendent of Indian affairs, who greeted the captain with the 
utmost warmth, made his poHtest bows to the lady, and imme- 
diately placed his room in the tavern at the disposal of the 
family while awaiting the preparation of their residence. Mr. 
Pratt was profuse in his thanks for this great kindness, Mr. 
Granger equally profuse in assurances that he was the party 
most .honored by the arrangement. The salaams on both sides 
were numerous and profound. 

Meanwhile the mother and children peered into the apart- 
ment over which so much politeness was being expended. 
They discovered a room some twelve feet square, with rough 
log walls, a floor of split logs, and a bedstead of poles in the 
corner. Mrs. Pratt's face grew sad at the dismal prospect, and 
at least one of the children could hardly keep from laugh- 
ing over the seeming disproportion between the gentleman's 
compliments and the subject of them. None the less Mr. 
Granger's offer was generous and timely, and his apartment was 
probably the most elegant one in Buffalo. 

The only survivor of this scene old enough to remember it is 
Mrs. Esther Pratt Fox, then a girl of six, now a most amiable 
lady of seventy-eight, who still laughs when she describes the 
politeness expended over the log room in Crow's tavern. 

Captain Pratt soon built him a frame house, the first one of 
any considerable size in the village, and also a store in which he 
began trading with both Indians and whites. His business, es- 
pecially with the former, soon became extensive, principally in 
buying furs, and during all his residence he maintained their 
unwavering confidence. 

The only other store in the village, and in fact in the county, 
at this time, was that of Sylvanus Maybee, unless Vincent Grant 
already had one. 

The only other event it is necessary to notice in this year is 
the establishment of a post-route and post-office. A law was 
passed in the spring, establishing a route from Canandaigua to 
Ft. Niagara, by way of Buffalo Creek. In September following- 
it was put in operation, and Erastus Granger was appointed the 
first postmaster in Erie county, his office being denominated 
" Buffalo Creek." Even Congress would not recognize the un- 
fortunate name of New Amsterdam. 


The new postmaster's duties were not onerous. Once a week 
a solitary horseman came from Canandaigua, with a pair of sad- 
dle-bags containing a few letters and a few diminutive news- 
papers scarcely larger than the letters, and once a week he 
returned from Fort Niagara with a still smaller literary freight. 

During 1805 there is no record of any new townships being 
occupied, but the work of improvement progressed rapidly 
around the settlements already made. 

In accordance with the law of the previous year, the towns of 
Willink and Erie were organized in the spring of 1805. The 
first town-meeting in Willink was held at Vandeventer's, all the 
voters being north of the reservation, except Joel Adams in 
Aurora and Roswell Turner in Sheldon, Wyoming county. 
The following officers were elected : 

Supervisor, Peter Vandeventer ; Town Clerk, Zerah Ensign ; 
Assessors, Asa Ransom, Aaron Beard, John J. Brown ; Collec- 
tor, Levi Felton ; Commissioners of Highways, Gad Warner, 
Charles Wilber, Samuel Hill, Jr. ; Constables, John Dunn, Ju- 
lius Keyes ; Overseers of the Poor, Henry Ellsworth and Otis 

The first town-meeting in the town of Erie was held at 
Crow's tavern, but the record of it was destroyed, with nearly 
all others pertaining to that town, in 18 13. In fact, notwith- 
standing the law, it would be difficult to establish the actual, 
organized existence of such a town, were it not for a rough 
little memorandum-book, preserved among the treasures of 
the Buffalo Historical Society. It is marked " Erie Town 
Book," but it does not show any of the usual town-records ex- 
cept receipts from licenses to sell liquor. 

Five of these were recorded in 1805, three being to persons 
in the present county of Erie and two at Lewiston. There was 
one in Buffalo to Joshua Gillett, and one to " The Contractors 
by S. Tupper." There must, however, have been others. Cer- 
tainly Landlord Crow must have had one. The price of licenses 
was five dollars each. Orlando Hopkins was collector of the 
town that year, and the whole general tax was a hundred and 
fifty dollars. 

" The Contractor's Store," a somewhat noted institution of 
that day, was started in the fall of 1804, or spring of 1805, by 


the gentlemen who had contracts for supplying the military 
posts of the West. It was at first in charge of Samuel Tupper, . 
who came to Buffalo about that time, and may have been one 
of the contractors. The fact that he was appointed a judge of 
Genesee county in the fall goes to show that he was not a mere 
clerk. He was the first person within the limits of Erie county 
who had a right to the appellation of judge. There have been 
a good many since. 

About the same time, Zenas Barker began keeping on the 
Terrace a rival tavern to Crow's. At the fall term of the Court 
of Common Pleas, both Crow and Barker were licensed to keep 
ferries across Buffalo creek ; the former at the mouth and the 
latter at what was afterwards known as the Pratt ferry. Another 
new-comer was William Hodge, a most energetic young man, 
only twenty-three years of age, but having already a wife and 
two children, one of whom, then five months old, was William 
Hodge, Jr., now a venerable and highly respected citizen of 
Buffalo. Mr. H. soon established himself on lot 35, now corner 
of Main and Utica streets, remaining in that vicinity throughout 
his life. 

Besides the two Buffalo liquor-licenses recorded in 1805, there 
was one to Nathaniel Titus, who in that year opened a tavern 
at the bend of the lake, in what is now Hamburg. His place 
was afterwards long known as the Barker stand. 

Among other settlers in Hamburg, Abner Amsden located 
himself on the lake shore, four miles above Titus, where his son 
Abner still lives. The latter, then eleven years old, is now 
eighty-two. I found him last year two or three miles from 
home, and so busy getting a load of lumber that he could not 
stop to talk much. He said, however, that he had lived on that 
same farm seventy years, and the longer he lived on it the 
better he liked it. , 

"You can't wear the country out," said the old gentleman, 
"if you farm it right ; " and he has certainly tried it long enough 
to know. 

Jotham Bemis, (or "old Captain Bemis" as he was called,) 
Vandeventer's opponent in the middle-of-the-road contest for the 
supervisorship, purchased land in Hamburg in 1805, and then 
or soon after located himself near the site of Abbott's Corners. 


Tyler Sackett, Russell Goodrich, Rufus Belden, Abel Buck, 
Gideon Dudley, Samuel P. Hibbard, King Root, Winslow Perry 
and others came about the same time or a little later. 

In East Hamburg, Jacob Eddy, (father of David) and Asa 
Sprague settled near Potter's Corners. Among other immi- 
grants were William Coltrin, Samuel Knappand Joseph Sheldon. 
The "Friend" or Quaker element began to center about Potter's 
Corners, giving to that locality characteristics which it has ever 
since to some extent retained. 

In 1805, Daniel Smith, son of Deacon Ezekiel, put up a rude 
mill, for grinding corn only, on a little stream since called Hoag's 
Brook, two miles southwest of Potter's Corners. It was a log 
building about eighteen feet square, with wood gearing, and 
would grind five or six bushels a day. 

David Eddy also built a saw-mill for the Indians, by contract 
with superintendent Granger, on Cazenove creek, near what is 
now "Lower Ebenezer." It furnished the first boards for the 
inhabitants of the south towns. The cranks, saws, etc., had to 
be transported from Albany. The same enterprising pioneer 
raised nearly a thousand bushels of corn in his first crop, having 
prepared the ground by chopping down the trees and burning 
the tops, leaving the bodies on the ground. 

To Boston, in 1805, came Deacon Richard Cary, a godly sol- 
dier of the Revolution, who had shared the hardships of the 
northern army in its vain but gallant adventure against Quebec, 
and had followed the footsteps of Washington through the ter- 
rible campaigns of the Jerseys. The extreme poverty of the 
pioneers of the Holland Purchase has been the theme of frequent 
description, and I think their descendants are somewhat proud 
of it — or, rather, proud of their surmounting such difficulties. 
There were so many cases of men bringing their families to 
their new homes on ox-sleds, and arriving with from fifty cents 
to five dollars each, that I can not mention the half of them. 
Deacon Cary, however, is fairly entitled to special notice in this 
respect, for when he reached the valley of the Eighteen-Mile he 
had just three cents in his pocket and was two dollars in debt. 
A sick wife and eight children explain the condition of his 

To shelter these ten persons there was a log cabin twelve feet 


square, with a one-slope roof, in which a blanket served as a 
door, and a piece of factory cloth stretched over a hole did duty 
for a window. The Johnsons and Cary all took their first crops 
of wheat to be ground at Chippewa, full forty miles distant. 

In Aurora there was a considerable influx of emigration. 
Jabez Warren moved his family thither in March (on an ox-sled 
of course) ; Emerson and Godfrey came with him. Taber Earl 
came back from Buffalo, Thomas Tracy and Humphrey Smith, 
purchasers of the previous year, occupied their lands, and settle- 
ment in Aurora was fairly under way. The price of land was 
two dollars per acre. 

Jabez Warren's oldest son, William, who, though not twenty- 
one till the July following, had been married two years, also 
came, received a part of the tract entered by his father, and 
made a clearing at the east end of East Aurora village ; cutting 
down the soft maples and basswoods, but only girdling the 
harder trees. In August he had five acres thus cleared, four of 
which he sowed to wheat, and in telling the story he adds : "I 
got bouncing wheat." He then brought his family, making the 
seventh in that township. 

William Warren, since better known as General Warren, was a 
smooth-faced, good-looking youth, of amiable disposition and 
pleasant manners, who would not have been picked out from his 
appearance as peculiarly adapted to endure the hardships of 
frontier life. Yet he has survived them all, and still remains in 
reasonably good health, at the age of ninety-two, to tell the 
story of his remarkable career. Until a few years since he con- 
tinued to dwell at East Aurora, but has latterly resided at 
Knowlesville, Orleans county. 

The future general had an early predeliction for military 
affairs, had been an "ensign" of militia at his former home, 
and immediately after his arrival in Erie county was commis- 
sioned as captain. His district embraced all the south part of 
Erie and Wyoming counties. With his commission came an 
order to call his company together for organization. He did so 
and nine men responded. 

In Nevvstead Archibald S. Clarke purchased, and soon settled, 
on the Buffalo road, about a mile and a half southwest of Akron, 
becoming ere long one of the most prominent citizens of the 


county. Aaron Dolph came about the same time, and among 
other names of immigrants of that period are John Beamer, 
Eli Hammond, Salmon and George Sparling, and Henry Russell. 

Among other settlers in Clarence in 1805, were Thomas Clark, 
Edmund Thompson and David Hamlin, Sr. His son Lindsay 
Hamlin, then eleven, is one of the earliest surviving residents 
of Clarence. He thinks that when he came in 1805 Asa Ran- 
som had both a saw-mill and a grist-mill. If so the latter must 
have been built as early as 1804. Other data fix the year at 
1805. At all events it was the first mill for grinding wheat in 
the county, and was for several years the sole resort of the 
settlers north of the reservation. 

Mr. Hamlin states that when he came the "openings" occupied 
half the space for four miles west and south of Clarence Hol- 
low, and along the Lancaster line. They were small prairies of 
a few acres each, surrounded by oak and pine. They were very 
productive, and the settlers used to raise from sixty to eighty 
bushels of corn per acre. 

The names of John Hersey, Alexander Logan, and John 
King appear as purchasers in Amherst this year. One of the 
events of the season there was the opening of a tavern by Elias 
Ransom, three miles west of Williamsville, and another was the 
marriage of Timothy S. Hopkins in the log house built by 
Thompson four years before, which has now become the venerable 
clapboarded, dun-colored "Evans house." 

A more important event was the advent of Jonas Williams. 
He had been a clerk in the land-office, and when on his way to 
Chautauqua county on business for the company had been cap- 
tivated by the grand water-power on Ellicott's creek. He 
bought the land and the abandoned mill, of Thompson, and in 
the spring of 1805 began to rebuild the mill, becoming the 
founder of the village which still bears his name. 




Poverty. — An Aristocratic Mansion; — A Horse Bedstead.— Oxen. — A Raising. — 
Clearing Land. — The Logging Bee. — The Rail Fence. 

I have now shown the general course of events, as accurately 
as I could, down to a time when settlement had got pretty well 
started in Erie county. Still everything was in the rudest form, 
and the daily lives of the settlers was of the very hardest de- 

Whenever there was something peculiar in any of the numer- 
ous stories of pioneer experience which I have read or listened 
to, I have narrated it, and shall do so hereafter. It would, how- 
ever, have been entirely impracticable to publish each individual 
experience, or the ordinary events in each town, because so many 
of them were closely similar to each other. There would have 
been twenty-five town histories all very much alike. The ob- 
ject of this chapter is to consolidate these numerous accounts, 
and give a general idea of what pioneering was in Erie county 
in its earliest stages. 

In the first place, it may be said roundly that all the early 
settlers of this county, as of the whole Holland Purchase, were 
extremely poor. The exceptions were of the rarest. Over and 
over again Mr. Ellicott mentions, in his letters to the general 
agent, the absolute necessity of making sales with little or no 
advance payment. Over and over again we find men buying 
from one to two hundred acres, the amount paid down being 
twenty dollars, ten dollars, five dollars, and even a smaller sum. 

When we see Sylvanus Maybee, the Buffalo merchant, paying 
but $15 down for a village lot, twelve dollars the next year, and 
then failing to pay altogether ; when we find Erastus Granger, 
superintendent of Indian affairs and post-master of Buffalo, 
sleeping on a pole bedstead, with a puncheon floor to his room, 
we can imagine the condition of the general run of settlers. 

There was not, at the end of 1805, a grist mill in the county, 


except Asa Ransom's, which was small and poorly supplied with 
water. There was no saw mill south of the reservation, and but 
two or three north of it. Except a few little buildings in Buf- 
falo, there was not a frame house in the county. The structures 
under which the earliest settlers sheltered themselves and their 
families hardly rose even to the dignity of log houses. They 
were frequently mere cabins of small logs, (there not being help 
enough to handle large ones,) covered with bark. Sometimes 
there was a floor of split. logs, or "puncheons,'' sometimes none. 
A log house sixteen feet square, with a shingle roof, a board 
floor, and a window containing- six lights of glass, was a decid- 
edly stylish residence, and its owner was in some danger of being 
disliked as a bloated aristocrat. 

The furniture was as primitive as the houses. Sometimes a 
feather-bed was brought on an ox-cart to the new home, some- 
times not. Bedsteads were still rarer, and chairs pertained only 
to the higher classes. Substitutes for the latter were made by 
splitting a slab out of a log, boring four holes in the corners, 
and inserting four legs hewed out of the same tree. 

A bedstead was almost as easily constructed. Two poles 
were cut, one about six feet long and the other three. One end 
of each was inserted in an auger-hole, bored in a log at the 
proper distance from the corner of the house ; the other ends 
were fastened to a post which formed the corner of the struc- 
ture. Other poles were fastened along the logs, and the frame 
was complete. 

Then, if the family was well off and owned a bed cord, it was 
strung upon the poles ; if not, its place was supplied by strips 
of bark from the nearest trees. This was called by some a 
" horse bedstead," and by some a " Holland Purchase bed- 

Usually the emigrant brought a small stock of provisions 
with him, for food he knew he must have. These, however, were 
frequently exhausted before he could raise a supply. Then he 
had to depend on the precarious resource of wild game, or on 
what his labor could obtain from his scarcely more fortunate 

Even after a crop of corn had been raised, there still re- 
mained the extreme difficulty of getting it ground. But in 


this case, as in so many others, necessity was the mother of in- 
vention. A fire being built in the top of a stump, a hollow of 
the size of a half-bushel basket would be burned out and then 
scraped clean. Then the pioneer would hew out a rude wooden 
pestle, fasten it to a " spring-pole," and secure the latter to a 
neighboring tree. With this primeval grist-mill corn could be 
reduced to a coarse meal. When there were several families in 
a neighborhood, one such machine would serve them all. It was 
sometimes called a " plumping mill." 

Another way was to flatten a beech log, hollow it out, fit a 
block into the hollow and turn the block with a lever. 

The clothes of both men and women for the first few years 
were such as they brought from their former homes. If these 
were plentiful, the owners were comfortable; if scanty, they were 
patched till their original material was lost beneath the over- 
lying amendments. 

When the emigrant was unmarried, he frequently came on 
foot and alone, with only an axe on his shoulder, selected a lo- 
cation miles away from the nearest settler, put him up the 
rudest kind of a cabin, and for awhile kept bachelor's hall, occa- 
sionally visiting some friendly matron to have his bread baked 
or his clothes repaired. 

When a family came it was almost invariably behind a yoke 
of oxen. These patient animals were the universal resource of 
the first pioneers of Western New York. Cheap, hardy, and 
far better adapted than horses to the terrible roads of those 
days, they possessed the further advantage of being always 
transmissible into beef, in case of accident to them or scarcity 
in the family. During the first few years of its settlement, prob- 
ably not one family in ten came into Erie county with a span of 

New-comers were always warmly welcomed by their prede- 
cessors, partly doubtless from native kindness, and partly because 
each new arrival helped to redeem the forest from its forbidding 
loneliness, and added to the value of improvements already made. 

If there were already a few settlers in the locality, the emi- 
grant's family was sheltered by one of them until notice could 
be given to all around of a house-raising on a specified day. On 
that day, perhaps only a dozen men would be collected from as 


many square miles, but all of them able to handle their axes as 
easily as the deftest clerk flourishes his pen. 

Suitable trees had already been felled, and logs cut, from 
twelve to sixteen feet long according to the wealth and preten- 
sions of the builder. These were drawn by oxen to the desired 
point, and four of the largest selected as a foundation. 

Four of the most active and expert men were designated to 
build the corners. They began by cutting a kind of saddle at 
the ends of two of the logs ; a space about a foot long being 
shaped like the roof of a house. Notches to fit these saddles 
were cut in the other logs and then they were laid upon the first 
ones. The operation was repeated again and again, the four 
axemen rising with the building, and shaping the logs handed 
up to them by their comrades. 

Arrived at a height of six or eight feet, rafters made of poles 
from the forest were placed in position, and if a supply of ash 
"shakes," (rough shingles three feet long,) had been provided, 
the roof was at once constructed, the gable-ends being formed 
of logs, successively shortened to the pinnacle. Then a place 
for a door was sawed out, and another for a window, (if the pro- 
prietor aspired to such a convenience,) and the principal work 
of the architects was done. 

They were usually cheered in their labors and rewarded at 
the close of them by the contents of a whisky jug; for it must 
have been a very poor neighborhood indeed in which a few quarts 
of that article could not be obtained on great occasions. Some- 
times the proprietor obtained rough boards and made a door, but 
often a blanket served that purpose during the first summer. 
There being no brick, he built a fire-place of stone, finishing it 
with a chimney composed of sticks, laid up cob-house fashion, 
and well plastered with mud. 

The finishing touches were given by the owner himself; then, 
if the family had brought a few pots and kettles with them, they 
were ready to commence housekeeping. 

The next task was to clear a piece of land. If the pioneer 
had arrived very early in the season, he might possibly get 
half an acre of woods out of the way so as to plant a little com 
the same spring. Usually, however, his ambition was limited to 
getting three or four acres ready for winter wheat by the first 


of September. To do this he worked early and late, fortunate 
if he was not interrupted by the ague, or some other sickness. 

The first thing of course was to fell the trees, but even this 
was d work of science. It was the part of the expert woods- 
man to make them all lie in one direction, so they could be easi- 
ly rolled together. Then they were cut into logs from fourteen 
to eighteen feet long, and the brush was cut up and piled. When 
the latter had become dry it was fired, and the land quickly 
burned over, leaving the blackened ground and charred logs. 

Next came the logging. When the piece was small the pio- 
neer would probably take his oxen, change works so as to obtain 
a couple of helpers, and the three would log an acre a day, one 
driving the team and two using handspikes, and thus dragging 
and rolling the logs into piles convenient for burning. The first 
dry weather these, too, were fired, the brands watched and heaped 
together, and when all were consumed the land was ready for 
the plough. 

Even an ordinary day in the logging field was a sufficiently 
sooty and disagreeable experience, but was as nothing compared 
with a "logging bee." When a large tract was to be logged, 
the neighbors were invited from far and near to a bee. Those 
who had oxen brought them, the others provided themselves 
with cant-hooks and handspikes. The officer of the day, otherwise 
the "boss," who was usually the owner of the land, gave the 
necessary directions, designating the location of the different 
heaps, and the work began. The charred and blackened logs 
were rapidly drawn, (or "snaked," as the term was,) alongside 
the heap, and then the handspike brigade quickly rolled them 
on top of it. Another and another was dragged up in rapid 
succession, the handspike-men being always ready to put it right 
if it caught against an obstacle. As it tore along the ground, 
the black dust flew up in every direction, and when a collision 
occurred the volume of the sooty zephyr arose in treble volume. 
Soon every man was covered with a thick coat of black, in- 
volving clothes, hands and face in a darkness which no mourn- 
ing garb ever equaled. But the work went on with increasing 
speed. The different gangs caught the spirit of rivalry, and 
each trio or quartette strove to make the quickest trips and the 
highest pile. It is even said by old loggers that the oxen would 


get as excited as the men, and would "snake" their loads into 
place with ever increasing energy. 

Teams that understood their business would stand quiet while 
the chain was being hitched, then spring with all their might, 
taking a bee-line to the log-heap and halt as soon as they came 
abreast of it. They had not the benefit, either, of the stimulus 
applied to the men, for the whisky jug was in frequent circulation. 

Faster and faster sped the men and teams to and fro, harder 
strained the handspike heroes to increase the pile, higher flew 
the clouds of dust and soot. Reckless of danger, men sprang 
in front of rolling logs, or bounded over them as they, went 
whirling among the stumps. Accidents sometimes happened, 
but those who have been on the scene express wonder that half 
the necks present were not broken. 

As the day draws to a close a thick cloud covers the field, 
through which are seen a host of sooty forms, four-legged ones 
with horns and two-legged ones with handspikes, pulling, run- 
ning, lifting, shouting, screaming, giving the most vivid idea of 
pandemonium that a farmer's life ever offers, until night de- 
scends, and the tired yet still excited laborers return to their 
homes, clothed in blackness, and the terror of even the most 
careless of housewives. But the work is done. 

To sow the land with winter wheat was, in most cases, the 
next move. A patch might be reserved for corn and potatoes, 
but spring wheat was a very rare crop. 

The next absolute necessity was a fence. The modern sys- 
tem of dispensing with that protection was unknown and un- 
dreamed of Probably the records of every town organized in 
the Holland Purchase, down to 1850, would show that at its first 
town-meeting an ordinance was passed, providing that horses 
and horned cattle should be free commoners. Hogs, it was usu- 
ally voted, should not be free commoners, while sheep held an 
intermediate position, being sometimes allowed the liberty of the 
road, and sometimes doomed to the seclusion of the pasture. 

Sometimes a temporary fence was constructed by piling large 
brush along the outside of the clearing, but this was a poor de- 
fense against a steer that was really in earnest, and was held in 
general disfavor as a sign of " shiftlessness," that first of sins 
to the Yankee mind. 


The universal reliance, and the pride of the pioneer's heart, 
was the old-fashioned "Virginia rail fence." Not long ago it 
would have been an absurdity for an Erie county writer to say 
anything in the way of description about an institution so well 
known as that. It might perhaps do to omit any mention of it 
now. But if any copies of this book should last for thirty years, the 
readers of that day will all want to know why the author failed 
to describe that curious crooked fence, made of split logs, which 
they will have heard of but never seen. Even now it is rapidly 
becoming a thing of the past, under the combined influences of 
cattle-restraining laws and the high price of timber. 

One of the most important things which the emigrant looked 
out for in selecting a farm was an ample supply of oak, elm, 
ash, or walnut, for rail-making purposes. Then, when winter 
had put an end to other work, laden with axe, and beetle, and 
iron wedge, and wooden wedge, he tramped through the 
snow to the big trees, and perhaps for months did little else 
than convert them into great, three-cornered rails, twelve feet 
long, and facing six or eight inches on each side. 

In the spring these were laid in fence, the biggest at the bot- 
tom, one end of each rail below and the other above, and each 
" length " of fence forming an obtuse angle with that on 
either side. Four and a half feet was the usual height pre- 
scribed by the town ordinances, but the farmer's standard 
of efficiency was an "eight-rail fence, staked and ridered." 
The last two adjectives denoted that two stout stakes were 
driven into the ground and crossed above the eighth rail, at each 
corner, while on the crotch thus formed was laid the biggest 
kind of a rail, serving at once to add to the height and to keep 
the others in place. Such a fence would often reach the height 
of seven feet, and prove an invincible obstacle to the hungry 
horse, the breachy ox, and even to the wild and wandering bull. 
If any of the old settlers should find any mistakes in this ac- 
count, I trust they will keep quiet, for the next generation will 
know nothing of the subject, and cannot criticise the description. 
Having now narrated the story of the average pioneer, until 
he has provided himself with the absolute necessities of fron- 
tier life — a log house, a few acres of clearing and a rail fence — 
I turn again to some of the details of local progress. 


1806 AND 1807. 

A Tavern in Evans. — A Grist-Mill in Hamburg. — A Four Days' Raising. — First 
Meeting-house in the County. — Mills, etc., in Aurora. — Settlement in Wales. 
— The Tomahawk Story. — First Methodist Society. — A Traveling Ballot Box. 
— First Erie County Lawyer. — Primitive Pork Packing. — Pay as You Go. — 
The Little Red School-house. — Chivalry at a Discount. 

In the year 1806, Joel Harvey, the first settler of Evans, be- 
gan keeping tavern at his residence, at the mouth of Eight- 
een-Mile creek. There were some purchases made in that year 
near East Evans, and temporary settlements made, but accord- 
ing to Peter Barkef, who furnished an interesting sketch of Evans 
to the Buffalo Historical Society, the discouraged pioneers left, 
and no permanent settlements were made till several years later. 
Mr. Harvey's was the frontier house, yet it was a good location 
for a tavern, on account of the heavy travel that went up the 
beach of the lake to Chautauqua county and Ohio. 

It was in 1806, too, as near as can be ascertained, that the 
first regular grist-mill was erected in the southwest part of the 
county, probably the first south of the reservation. It was built 
by John Cummings, on the Eighteen-Mile creek, at a place now 
called McClure's Mills, a mile or so below Water Valley, in the 
town of Hamburg. 

The raising of it was a grand affair. Old men still relate how 
from all the south part of the county the scattered settlers 
came with their teams, elated at the idea of having a grist- 
mill, and willing to make a week's journey if necessary to give 
it a start. 

Yet so few were they that their united strength was insuffi- 
cient to put some of the great timbers in their places. The pro- 
prietor sent to the reservation and obtained a crowd of Indians 
to help in the work. One does not expect very hard lifting 
from an Indian, but he can lift, when there is a prospect of plenty 
of whisky as a reward. It was only, however, after four days' 


work, by white men and red men, that the raising of the first 
grist-mill in Hamburg was completed. 

Jacob Wright about this time settled in Hamburg near Ab- 
bott's Corners, which for many years was known as " Wright's 

The " Friends " in East Hamburg had become numerous 
enough to organize a "Friends Meeting" in 1806. This was 
undoubtedly the first religious organization in the county. The 
next year they built a log meeting-house close to Potter's Cor- 
ners. It was not only the first church-building of any descrip- 
tion in the county, but for more than ten years it was the only 

The Quakers were equally zealous in the cause of education, 
and as early as 1806 built a log school-house — certainly the first 
one south of the reservation, and perhaps in the county. Henry 
Hibbard taught the first school. David Eddy also built a saw- 
mill on Smoke's Creek, not far from Potter's Corners. 

Seth and Samuel Abbott, brothers, located two or three 
miles southeast of Potter's Corners in the fall of 1807, both be- 
coming influential citizens, and the former afterwards giving his 
name to the village of Abbott's Corners. 

Among the new settlers in Boston in these years were Jona- 
than Bump, Benjamin Whaley, Job Palmer, Calvin Doolittle, 
Eliab Streeter, and Joseph Yaw in 1806, and William Cook, 

Ethan Howard, Kester and Serrill Alger in 1807. In the 

latter year the settlement first attained to the dignity of having 
a frame barn, the proprietor being the energetic pioneer, Charles 

In 1806 or '7 the "Friends Yearly Meeting" of Philadelphia 
sent a mission to instruct the Indians of the Cattaraugus re- 
serve, having bought three hundred acres adjoining the reserva- 
tion. The mission was composed of several single men and 
women, who called themselves a family. The whole was under 
the management of Jacob Taylor. His nephew, Caleb Taylor, 
remembers the names of Stephen Twining and Hannah Jack- 
.son, as members of the family. 

They located at the place since known as Taylor's Hollow, a 
few rods from the reservation line, where they gave instruction 
in farming to all the Indians who would receive it, in housework 


to the squaws, and in reading, writing, etc., to the youth. What- 
ever the improvement made, the Quakers generally produced a 
favorable impression on the red men. Even the bitter Red 
Jacket spoke of them as friends — the only white friends the In- 
dians had. 

With this exception the valley of the Cattaraugus, including 
all its tributaries in Erie county, remained an unbroken wilder- 
ness till the fall of 1807. At that time two hardy pioneers, 
Christopher Stone and John Albro, crossed the ridge, made their 
own roads through the forest, and finally located on a pleasant 
little stream running into the Cattaraugus from the north ; in 
fact on the site of Springville. There they and their families 
remained during the winter, their nearest neighbors being at 
least ten miles distant, in the valley of Eighteen-Mile creek. 

In 1806 Phineas Stephens bought the mill-site at the "lower 
village " of Aurora, and that year put up a saw-mill. That 
year or the next he also built a grist-mill. My authorities differ 
but it was probably in 1807, leaving Cummings' the first grist- 
mill (for wheat) in the south towns. It was certainly the first 
framed one, as Stephens' was built of hewed logs. Among 
new purchasers in 1806, all of whom settled that year or the 
next, were Solomon Hall, James S. Henshaw, Oliver Pattengill, 
Walter Paine, Jonathan Hussey, Ira Paine and Humphrey 
Smith. The latter had a great fancy for mill-sites, and besides 
the one at Griffinshire where he afterwards built mills, bought 
the one at West Falls and the one at the forks of the Cazenove. 

In 1806 or early in 1 807, he does not remember which, young 
William Warren hung out a sign before his log house, and be- 
came the first tavern-keeper in the southeast part of the county. 
In the summer of the latter year the little cabin he had first 
lived in was converted into a school-house, where the first school 
in all that section was taught by Mary Eddy, the vigorous 
pedestrian mentioned by Mrs. Colvin. The next winter Warren' 
himself kept school in the same house. That enterprising 
young pioneer was thus school-teacher, tavern-keeper and cap- 
tain all at once. His second " company training " was held at 
Turner's Corners, in Sheldon, in 1806, when there were about 
sixty men present, instead of the nine of the year before. Asa 
Ransom had then been appointed major commandant. 


Ephraim Woodruff, the pioneer blacksmith in the southeastern 
part of the county, opened his shop in Aurora in 1807. 

In 1806 William Allen made the first settlement in Wales, 
locating where the Big Tree road then crossed Buffalo creek, 
about half a mile south of Wales Center. The road then made a 
half-mile curve to the south to avoid the long and steep hill east 
of Wales Center. The same fall Amos Clark and William Hoyt 
located a little east of Holmes' Hill. 

This locality received its name from two brothers, Ebenezer 
and John M. Holmes, whose arrival, though it did not occur till 
the beginning of 1808, preceded the formation of Niagara 
county, and can, therefore, most conveniently be noted here. 
They came in February and located themselves on the top of 
the hill, close to the present west line of Wales. As both had 
large families — Ebenezer eight and John M. nine children — most 
of whom grew up and settled in that vicinity, it was natural that 
the name of " Holmes' Hill " should soon be adopted, and be- 
come permanent. 

It may be observed, in passing, that the vegetation was at that 
time almost as luxuriant on the hill-tops as in the valleys, and 
frequently deceived the keenest of the pioneers as to the value 
of the soil. 

Jacob Turner came to Wales in 1807 or '8, and settled near 
William Allen. 

A curious story is told regarding early times in that town, 
even previous to its first settlement. In 181 3 an Indian hatchet 
was found imbedded in a tree on the land of Isaac Hall, near 
Wales Center. No one could imagine how it came there, and 
no one attempted to explain its presence. Many years later, 
however, (after all danger of Indian retaliation had passed 
away,) John Allen, who is vouched for by those who knew him 
as a reliable man, made the following statement concerning it : 

About the time the first settlers came to Buffalo, an Indian 
was in that village who showed the skin of a white child, which 
he boasted that he had killed and skinned. He declared his 
intention to make a tobacco-pouch out of his ghastly trophy. 
One of the few who heard him was Truman Allen, brother of 
John Allen, who told the story. He became so enraged that 
when the savage left for the southeast, Allen followed him as 


far as Wales, and there shot him. He buried the slain man and 
his gun, but stuck the tomahawk into the tree where it was 
afterwards found. John Allen's story was a strange one, but I 
give it as it was told me by P. M. Hall, who knew of the finding 
of the hatchet, and heard the tale from Allen. It is also nar- 
rated in the State Gazetteer. 

In 1807 the first settlement was made in the present town of 
Holland. Arthur Humphrey, (father of Hon. James M. Hum- 
phrey,) Abner Currier and Jared Scott began clearing farms on 
the creek flats, between South Wales and Holland village. 
Humphrey settled that year on the farm where he lived till his 
death, fifty years later. Currier and Scott brought their families 
a year or so afterwards. 

In 1806 the first purchase was made in the present town of 
Alden, in the northwest corner, by Jonas Vanwey. According 
to all accounts, however, there was no settlement till some years 

In Newstead, Elisha Geer, Jonathan Fish and others settled 
in 1806, and Charles Knight, Lemuel Osborn and others in 1807. 
Mrs. Osborn was the daughter of Knight, and still survives, a 
resident of the village of Akron. She is the only person re- 
maining in Newstead, so far as I could learn, who came as early 
as 1807. 

She relates that the first church in town was organized at her 
father's house just after their arrival, in July of that year. It 
was a Methodist society, with twelve members, and Mr. Knight 
was the first class-leader. Mrs. Osborn is the only surviving 

It was the first Methodist organization on the Holland Pur- 
chase, and probably the second religious society in Erie county, 
the Friends' Meeting in East Hamburg being the first. It was 
organized by the Rev. Peter Van Ness, one of the two first 
Methodist missionaries who came upon the Purchase, the Rev. 
Amos Jenks being the other. Both were sent out in 1807, 
under the auspices of the Philadelphia conference. 

In 1806 or '7, too, Archibald S. Clarke started a store on his 
farm near Vandeventer's. This was the first store in the county, 
outside of Buffalo, and was hailed by all the people round 
about as marking a decisive epoch in the advance of civilization. 


Into Clarence, in 1806, came Jonathan Barrett, John Tyler, 
Justice Webster and others, and in 1807, Wm. Barrett, Thomas 
Brown and Asa Harris. The last named settled on the Buffalo 
road, three or four miles west from Clarence Hollow, at a point 
which thenceforth went by the name of " Harris Hill," though 
the " hill " is so low as to be hardly perceptible. 

Before leaving the territory of the original town of Willink, it 
may be stated that, up to and including 1806, the elections were 
every year held at Peter Vandeventer's, and every year the 
worthy landlord was chosen supervisor. In 1807, however, the 
town-meeting was held at Clarence Hollow, and then Asa Ran- 
som was elected supervisor. 

Up to this time the scattering voters in Willink, south of the 
reservation, had to cross it to exercise the elective franchise. 
General elections, however, in those times were held three days, 
and in April, 1807, the southern settlers got sight of a ballot 
box. The election was held a day and a half north of the 
reservation, and on the afternoon of the second day the "board"' 
crossed the wilderness. The next forenoon they held open the 
polls at Warren's tavern in Aurora, and in the afternoon, (as 
Gen. W. remembers it,) in Wales, at the house of Jacob Turner. 
The commissioners of excise of Willink for 1807 certified to 
the qualifications of no less than ten persons to keep hotels in 
that town. Doubtless all these, and perhaps more, actually kept 
tavern, but there was not a single store in the town. 

James Hershey and William Maltby came to Amherst in 1806, 
and in 1807 John J. Drake, Samuel Fackler, Gamaliel St. John 
and others. St. John had to pay $3 an acre for his land, while 
the price to the rest was $2. This was doubtless because he 
settled close to where Jonas Williams was vigorously striving to 
build up the village of Williamsville, though without much suc- 
cess. Mr. St. John was an energetic pioneer, with already a large 
family of children, and Mrs. S. was a woman of extraordinary 
resolution, destined to become a historical personage in connec- 
tion with the burning of Buffalo. 

There were still but three or four houses at Williamsville, 
which was generally called Williams'' Mills. In one of these, 
near the west end of the present village, Samuel McConnell kept 


In the present city of Buffalo, outside the village, Major Noble, 
James Stewart, Gideon Moshier, Loren and Velorous Hodge, 
Henry Ketchum (brother of the late Jesse Ketchum,) and many 
others settled during the two years under consideration. Some 
of the land was held at $3.50 per acre, and from that down as 
low as $2.25. 

The village itself continued to grow, though not with the 
rapidity of later years, nor after the manner of some newly 
founded western cities. 

In 1806 Joseph Landon bought Crow's tavern, refitted it, 
made a comfortable hotel of it, and in fact founded the present 
Mansion House. Landon's tavern soon became celebrated far 
and wide, and was the first in the county which gained especial 
fame as a place of good cheer. 

In September, 1806, the earliest lawyer made his advent in 
Erie county. If any of the frontiersmen were disposed to look 
askance on a representative of the legal profession, as a proba- 
ble provoker of disputes and disturber of society, they must 
soon have been disabused of their prejudices, for Ebenezer Wal- 
den, the new comer, was of all men one of the most upright and 
most modest. He immediately commenced practice in a little 
office on Willink avenue, between Seneca and Crow streets, and 
for a year or two was the only attorney west of Batavia. 

In 1806, too, the population of the youthful city was increased 
by the advent of Mr. Elijah Leech and Mr. David Mather. The 
former was in the employ of Captain Pratt, whose daughter he 
afterwards married, and the latter established the third black- 
smith shop in the village. He has stated that there were but 
sixteen houses in Buffalo when he came in April, adding, 
"Eight of them were scattered along on Main street, three of 
them were on the Terrace, three of them on Seneca and two on 
Cayuga streets." I think, however, that when he made this 
statement Mr. Mather forgot a few buildings. He mentions 
only the stores of Samuel Pratt and that of "the contractors,'" 
then in charge of Vincent Grant, while all other accounts in- 
clude that of Sylvanus Maybee. Joshua Gillett also established 
a small store in Buffalo about that time. 

Apropos of that "contractors' store," General Warren tells a 
story illustrative of early expedients. One fall the contractors 


sent on a drove of hogs from the East, expecting that they would 
be killed and salted down at Buffalo, and the pork shipped in 
the spring to the western posts. At Buffalo, however, the man 
in charge (probably Vincent Grant,) discovered that there were 
no barrels to be had. In this emergency he availed himself of 
a small empty log house, which he packed full of alternate lay- 
ers of pork and salt, and thus safely kept the meat through the 

It was probably in 1806 that the services of the Rev. Elkanah 
Holmes as a preacher were secured by the following primitive 
arrangement, narrated in after years by Mr. Landon : 

In the first place the inhabitants held a meeting, and made a 
list of those who would help pay a preacher for a certain length 
of time. Then they estimated the amount to be paid by each 
person for each week, and it was agreed that every Sunday each 
man should bring his money in a piece of paper, with his name on 
it. The arrangement was faithfully carried out, and as strangers 
also contributed some the preacher's salary was made up before 
his time was out. That was certainly a very thorough exempli- 
fication of the motto, "pay as you go." 

During the winter of 1 806-7, a school was taught by a Mr. 
Hiram Hanchett in the old "Middaugh house." But in March 
of the latter year it was determined to have something better. 
The "little red school-house" then erected on the corner of Pearl 
and Swan streets, is frequently mentioned in the reminiscences 
of the early residents of Buffalo. Its history is interesting not 
only because it was the first building of its kind in what is now 
a great city, but because it became the subject of a somewhat 
famous controversy in the courts, which was not terminated till 
twenty-five years after the structure itself had ceased to exist. 

The time and manner of building it, as well as the contribu- 
tors thereto, have heretofore been a matter of doubtful tradition. 
Those who feel an interest in early local history will be gratified 
to learn that there is now in existence, among the miscellaneous 
papers of the Historical Society, a document which gives an 
authentic account of the beginning of school-house building in 
the city of Buffalo. This is nothing less than the original ac- 
count-book, containing the subscriptions and payments toward 
erecting the "little red school-house" of historic fame. 


It is only a memorandum-book of coarse paper, with proba- 
bly the roughest brown, pasteboard cover ever seen on a book ; 
yet it is extremely interesting, not only as giving an authentic 
account of the erection of the first school-house in the city, and 
as showing the names of a large proportion of the inhabitants 
of the then infant village, but also because it is one of the very 
few documents relating to local history which survived the confla- 
gration of 181 3. With the solitary exception of the town-book 
of the town of Erie from 1805 to 1 808, this account-book is the 
most valuable article to the student of local history in the whole 
collection of the Buffalo Historical Society. The following is a 
literal copy of the first page : 

" At a meeting of the Inhabitance of the Vilage of Buffaloe 
meet on the twenty-ninth day of March Eighteen hundred & 
seven at Joseph Landon's Inn by a Vote of Sd meeting Zenas 
Barker in the Chair for the purpos to arect a School Hous in 
Sd Village by a Subscription of the Inhabitanse. 

also Voted that Samuel Pratt, Joseph Landon & Joshua Gil- , 
lett be a Committee to See that they are appropriated on the 
School House above mentioned which Subscriptions are to be 
paid in by the first day of June next or Such part of it as Shall 
be wanted by that time." 

And the following is a list of the subscribers and the amounts 

put down by each : 

"Sylvanus Maybee, $20.00; Zenas Barker, 10.00; Thomas 
Fourth, 3.00; Joshua Gillett, 15.00; Joseph Wells, 7.00; John 
Johnston, 10.00; Nathaniel W. Sever, 10.00; Isaac H. Bennet, 
3.00 ; Levi Strong, 5.00 ; William Hull, 10.00 ; Samuel Pratt, 
22.00; Richard Mann, 5.00; Asahel Adkins, 5.00; Samuel An- 
drews, i.oo; Garret Freeland, i.oo; Billa Sherman, S/^^c." 

All the subscriptions were dated March 30, 1807, the day after 
the meeting. Each man's name was placed on a page of the 
book and charged with the amount subscribed, and then credited 
with the amount paid, either by cash, labor or material. 

The carpenter work appears to have been all done by Levi 
Strono- and George Kith, whose accounts are also in the book. 
Their bills for work amounted to $68.50. The credits for work 
and material were mostly in April, 1807, showing that the 
building was started immediately after the subscription. 

From the fact that Joshua Gillett is credited with 2 14 gallons 


of whisky on the 13th of April, I should presume that the "rais- 
ing" took place on that day. But funds and credit apparently 
ran low, so that Buffalo remained without a school-house a year 
and a half more ; for it was not until November, 1808, that 
Samuel Pratt was credited with two thousand shingles for this 
primeval temple of education. 

The building was doubtless finished up for use that winter 
(1808-9,) for on the 23d day of May, 1809, there was a general 
settling up, and the last entries of small cash payments are 
made in the book. 

Most of the subscribers, including Pratt, Maybee, Landon, 
Barker, Gillett and Wells, paid up in full, but some appear to 
have failed in part and a few entirely. 

The book was presented to the Historical Society in 1866, by 
Joshua Gillett, of Wyoming county, whom I presume to have 
been a son of the Joshua Gillett who was one of the committee 
to raise funds and superintend the building. It was probably 
' lying in a trunk, in 18 13, and was carried out of town ; thus 
escaping the general destruction of documents at that time. 

Among the names mentioned as subscribers are those of Wil- 
liam Hull, Asahel Adkins and Joseph Wells, all of whom came 
late in 1806 or early in 1807. Hull was a silversmith, the first 
in the county after Ransom quit working for the Indians, Ad- 
kins soon afterwards opened a tavern on " The Plains," long cele- 
brated for its good cheer, and the usual resort of Buffalonians 
on their simple pleasure excursions in those days. 

William Johnston, who at one time had held the destiny of 
Buffalo almost entirely under his control, died in 1807, being 
then the largest private land-holder in the village, except Mr. 
Ellicott. He had reached the age of sixty-five, and after the 
stormy scenes of his early life, when he had led his tories and 
savages against the American frontier, he sank quietly to rest, 
respected as a good neighbor and an intelligent citizen. 

David Mather says : " I was with him a good deal during his 
last illness, and from what escaped him then I judged that he 
had been familiar with some of the most barbarous scenes of the 
border wars." His half-breed son John inherited his property (now 
of immense value,) and married a daughter of Judge Barker, 
but did not live long to enjoy his fortune. 


I will close this chapter with the description of an amus- 
ing scene which occurred in Buffalo in the fall of 1807, related 
to me by Gen. Warren. Militia regiments in those days had 
no colonels, but were each organized with a lieutenant-colonel 
commanding, and two majors. In 1807, the militia of the west- 
ern part of Genesee county had been formed into a regiment, 
with Asa Ransom as lieutenant-colonel commanding, and T. 
S. Hopkins and Sylvanus Maybee as majors. There had been 
several " company trainings," but as yet no " general training." 
At the first "officer meeting" after the new appointments 
were made, a dispute arose between Col. Ransom and Major 
Maybee, as to who should be recommended to the governor for 
the vacant captaincy of the Buffalo company, in place of May- 
bee, promoted. 

The war of words grew more and more furious, until at length 
the doughty major challenged his superior officer to fight a 
duel. For this infraction of military discipline Col. Ransom 
put the major under arrest, and reported his case to the higher 
authorities. In due time a court-martial was convened, Capt. 
Warren being one of the witnesses, and Maybee was tried and 

He must have taken his military misfortune very much to 
"heart, for, though he had been a prominent man in Buffalo, he 
immediately disappeared from its records, and undoubtedly left 
the village, apparently preferring the discomfort of making a 
new home to remaining where he could not enjoy the glory of a 
duel, nor the honors of a militia major. Thus sadly ended the 
first display of chivalry in Erie county. 




UivLsioii, of Genesee County Necessary. — Liconvenient Towns. — Captain Bemis' 
.Strategy. — Erection of Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties. — Short 
Courts. — Town Changes. — Clarence. — Willink. — Destruction of the Town of 
Erie. — Actual Beginning of Erie County. 

In the beginning of 1808, there was a reorganization of the 
counties and towns of the Holland Purchase, so complete, and 
in some respects so peculiar, as to merit a brief chapter by 

Hitherto the boundaries of Genesee county had remained as 
at first defined, except that Allegany had been taken off in 
1806, but by 1808 the inhabitants felt that they were suffi- 
ciently numerous to justify a subdivision, and, what was more 
important, Mr. EUicott became satisfied that the interests of the 
Holland Company would be promoted by such a change, even 
though they should have to erect the new county buildings. 

The towns, too, eighteen miles wide and a hundred miles 
long, which had done well enough when nearly all the settlers 
were scattered along the Buffalo road, were now found to be in- 
convenient in the extreme. Going from Fort Niagara to Buf- 
falo, nearly forty miles, to town-meeting, was a little too much 
even for the ardent patriotism of the American voter. Scarcely 
less troublesome was it to cross the reservation for that purpose. 
Besides there was already a settlement at Olean, in the town of 
Willink, the inhabitants of which if they ever went to election, 
which is doubtful, must have traversed a distance of sixty miles, 
and twenty miles further to town-meeting, which was always 
held north of the reservation. 

A story was told me in Hamburg, quite in harmony with the 
circumstances, to the effect that the Buffalonians were converted 
to the project of dividing the town of Erie by a piece of strategy 
on the part of Capt. Jotham Bemis, then resident ncai Abbott's 
Corners. They had opposed a division, as all the town business 


was done at their village, bringing them more or less trade, and 
making unnecessary, so far as they were concerned, the expense 
of new towns. 

So, in the spring of 1807, Capt. Bemis made arrangements 
for all the south part of the town of Erie to be fully represented 
at Buffalo, by men prepared to stay over night. It was then 
customary to fix the place of the next town-meeting in the 
afternoon, just before closing the polls. 

Accordingly, all the south-country people duly appeared at 
Buffalo, and every man of them remained. Most of those from 
north of the reservation started for home early, and the villagers 
alone were in the minority. When the time came for appoint- 
ing the next place of meeting, the gallant captain rallied his 
men, and it was fixed at John Green's tavern, in the present 
town of East Hamburg. Then the Buffalo people were willing 
the town should be divided, and used their influence also in 
favor of a division of the county. 

Whether this story be true or not, certain it is that on the 1 ith 
day of March there was a complete municipal reorganization of 
the Holland Purchase. On that day a law was passed by which 
all that part of the county of Genesee lying north of Cattarau- 
gus creek, and west of the line between the fourth and fifth 
ranges of townships, should form the county of Niagara. The 
counties of Cattaraugus and Chautauqua were erected at the 
same time, with substantially the same limits as now, but it was 
provided that neither of them should be organized until it 
should have five hundred voters, and meanwhile both, for all 
county purposes, were attached to Niagara. 

It was also enacted that the county-seat of the latter county 
should be at " Buffaloe or New Amsterdam," provided the Hol- 
land Company should in three years erect a suitable court-house 
and jail, and should deed to the county at least half an acre of 
ground, on which they should stand. It gives a somewhat amus- 
ing idea of the amount of legal business expected to be done, 
to note that three terms annually of the Court of Common 
Pleas and two of the Court of General Sessions were provided 
for, and that in order to give time for the Court of Sessions it 
was enacted that two terms of the Common Pleas, all of which 
were to be held on Tuesday, might be extended till the Satur- 


day following ! The first court was directed to be held at the 
house of Joseph Landon. 

By the same act the town-lines of the Purchase were changed 
to a very remarkable extent. A tier of townships off from the 
east side of Willink had been left in Genesee county. This, 
together with old Batavia, was cut up into the three towns of 
Batavia, Warsaw and Sheldon. 

All that part of Niagara county north of the center of Ton- 
awanda creek, being a part of the former towns of Willink and 
Erie, and covering the same ground as the present county of 
Niagara, was formed into a town by the name of Cambria. All 
that part between Tonawanda creek and the center of the Buf- 
falo Creek reservation, also comprising parts of both Willink 
and Erie, was formed into a town by the name of Clarence, 
which as will be seen included the village of Buffalo. The first 
town-meeting was directed to be held at the house of Elias 
Ransom, (near Eggertsville.) All that part of Niagara county 
south of the center of the reservation, being also a part of Wil- 
link and Erie, was formed into a town which retained the name 
of Willink. 

In the new county of Cattaraugus a single town was erected 
named Olean, while Chautauqua county was divided into two 
towns, Chautauqua and Pomfret. 

It will be seen that by this act the town of Erie was com- 
pletely obliterated from the map, while Willink, which had pre- 
viously been eighteen miles wide and a hundred miles long, 
extending from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, was changed 
into a town bounded by the Buffalo reservation, Lake Erie, Cat- 
taraugus creek, and the east line of the county, having an 
extreme width north and south of twenty-five miles, and an ex- 
treme length east and west of thirty-five. So great was the 
compUcation caused by the destruction of the old town-lines 
while retaining one of the town-names, (as well as by the sub- 
sequent revival of "Erie" as a town-name, as will be hereafter 
related,) th^t all the local historians and statisticians have got 
lost in trying to describe the early municipal organization of 
this county. Even French's State Gazetteer, a book of much 
merit and very great labor, is entirely at fault in regard to near- 
ly all the earlier town formations of Erie county. 


The oldest residents of the town of Erie, also, had forgotten 
its existence, and insisted that "Willink" covered the whole 
ground. Even the gentleman who told me the story as he had 
heard it, of the Bemis maneuver, supposed it related to a divi- 
sion of Willink. Although "Erie" was plainly laid down on a 
map of the Purchase made by Ellicott in 1804, I was half dis- 
posed for a while to regard it as a myth, and mentally desig- 
nated it as "The Lost Town." The old town-book before 
referred to, however, gave me considerable faith in it, and at 
length an examination of the laws of 1804 and 1808, proved its 
existence and showed how completely the previous organization 
was broken up by the statute creating Niagara county. 

It will have been seen that, by that law, there were but three 
towns in Niagara county, two of which were in the present 
county of Erie. As, however, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua 
were temporarily united with Niagara, the new board of super- 
visors which met in Buffalo must have been composed of six 
members, representing a territory a hundred miles long and 
from twenty to seventy-five miles wide. 

This was substantially the beginning of the present Erie 
county organization, although the name of Niagara was after- 
wards given to that part north of the Tonawanda. Erie county 
formed the principal part of old Niagara, both in territory and 
population ; the county seat of old Niagara was the same as 
that of Erie, and such of the old Niagara county records as are 
not destroyed are retained in Erie county. 

Having thus reached an epoch in the course of events, another 
chapter of a general nature becomes necessary. 

156 THE pioneer's BARN. 



The Pioneer's Barn. — The Well. — The Sweep. — Browse. — Sheep and Wolves. — 
Sugar-making. — Money Scarce. — Wheat and Tea. — Potash. — Social Life. — 
Schools. — The Husking Bee. — Buffalo Society. — Dress. — Indians.— Loaded 
Beaver Claws. — Peter Gimlet. — An Indian Court. — The Devil's Ramrod. — 
Describing a Tavern.— Old King and Young Smoke. — Anecdotes of Red 

After the pioneer had got his log house, his piece of clearing 
and his fence, the next thing was a barn. An open shed was 
generally made to suffice for the cattle, which were expected to 
stand cold as well as a salamander is said to endure fire. But 
with the gathering of harvests came the necessity for barns, 
and, though log ones were sometimes erected, it was so difificult 
to make them large enough that frame barns were built as soon 
as,circumstances would possibly permit, and long before frame 
houses were aught but distant possibilities. 

All were of substantially the same pattern, differing only in 
size. The frame of the convenient forest timber, scored and 
hewed by the ready hands of the pioneer himself, and roughly 
fitted by some frontier carpenter, the sides enclosed with pine 
boards without battening, the top covered with shingles, a 
threshing floor and drive-way in the center, with a bay for hay 
on one side, and a little stable room on the other, surmounted 
by a scafifold for grain — such was the Erie county barn of 1 808, 
and it has changed less than any other adjunct of the farm, 
though battened and painted sides, and basement stables, are 
becoming more common every year. 

Generally preceding the barn if there was no spring conven- 
ient, but otherwise slightly succeeding it, was the well. The 
digging of this, like almost everything else, was done by the 
proprietor himself, with the aid of his boys, if he had any large 
enough, or of a neighbor to haul up the dirt. Its depth of 
course depended on the location of water, but that was gener- 


ally to be found in abundant quantity and of good quality at 
from ten to twenty feet. 

Excellent round stone was also abundant, and the settlers 
were never reduced to the condition of those western pioneers 
who are obliged, (to use their own expression,) to stone up their 
wells with cotton-wood plank. 

The well being dug and stoned up, it was completed for use 
by a superstructure which was then universal, but is now almost 
utterly a thing of the past. A post ten or twelve inches in di- 
ameter and some ten feet high, with a crotched top, was set in 
the ground a few feet from the well. On a stout pin, running 
through both arms of the crotch, was hung a heavy pole or 
" sweep," often twenty feet long, the larger end resting on the 
ground, the smaller one rising in air directly over the well. To 
this was attached a smaller pole, reaching to the top of the well. 
At the lower end of this pole hung the bucket, the veritable 
" old oaken bucket, that hung in the well," and the process of 
drawing water consisted in pulling down the small end of the 
sweep till the bucket was filled, and then letting the butt end 
pull it out, with some help. If the pioneer had several small 
children, as he generally had, a board curb, about three feet 
square and two and a half high, usually ensured their safety. 

The whole formed, for a long time, a picturesque and far-seen 
addition to nearly every door-yard in Erie county. Once in a 
great while some wealthy citizen would have a windlass for 
raising water, but for over a quarter of a century after the first 
settlements a farmer no more thought of having a pump than of 
buying a steam-engine. 

It took longer for the pioneer to get a meadow started than 
to raise a crop of grain. Until this was done, the chief support 
of his cattle in winter was " browse," and for a long time after 
it was their partial dependence. Day after day he went into 
the woods, felled trees — beech, maple, birch, etc. — and drove his 
cattle thither to feed on the tender twigs. Cattle have been 
kept through the whole winter with no other food. Even in a 
much more advanced state of settlement, '■ browse " was a fre- 
quent resource to eke out slender stores, or supply an unex- 
pected deficiency. 

In the house the food consisted of corn-bread or wheat-bread, 


according to the circumstances of the householder, with pork as 
the meat of all classes. Beef was an occasional luxury. 

Wild animals were not so abundant near the reservations as 
elsewhere. They were most numerous in the southern part of 
the county. The Indians kept them pretty well hunted down 
in their neighborhood, though they had a rule among themselves 
forbidding the young men from hunting within several miles of 
their village, in order to give the old men a chance. 

Venison was frequently obtained in winter, but the settlers of 
Erie county were generally too earnestly engaged in opening 
farms to be very good hunters. Sometimes, too, a good fat bear 
was knocked over, but pork was the universal stand-by. No- 
body talked about trichinae spiralis then. 

Nearly everybody above the very poorest grade brought with 
him a few sheep and a cow. The latter was an invaluable re- 
source, furnishing the only cheap luxuries the family enjoyed, 
while the sheep were destined to supply their clothing. But the 
keeping of these was up-hill work. Enemies lurked on every 
hill-side, and often after bringing a little iiock for hundreds of 
miles, and protecting them through the storms of winter, the 
pioneer would learn from their mangled remains that the wolves 
had taken advantage of one incautious night to destroy them 
all. Wolves were the foes of sheep, and bears of hogs. The 
latter enemies, however, could generally be defeated by keeping 
their prey in a good, stout pen, near the house. But sheep must 
be let out to feed, and would sometimes stray so as to be left out 
over night ; and then woe to the captured. Occasional pan- 
thers, too, roamed through the forest, but they seldom did any 
damage to the stock, and only served to render traveling at night 
a little dangerous. 

Despite of wolves, however, the pioneers managed to keep 
sheep, and as soon as one obtained a few pounds of wool his 
wife and daughters went to carding it into rolls with hand-cards, 
then to spinning it, and then they either wove it or took it to a 
neighbor's to be woven, paying for its manufacture with a share 
of the cloth or with some farm products. Everything was done 
at home and almost everything by hand. There was not at this 
period, (the beginning of 1808,) even a carding mill or cloth- 
dressing establishment on the whole Holland Purchase, though 


one was built the succeeding summer at Bushville, Genesee 

As soon as flax could be raised, too, the "little wheels" of 
the housewives were set in motion, and coarse linen or tow cloth 
was manufactured, which served for dresses for the girls and 
summer clothing for the boys. 

Tea and coffee were scarce, but one article, which in many 
countries is considered a luxury — sugar — was reasonably abun- 
dant. All over the county grew the sugar maple, and there was 
hardly a lot large enough for a farm on which there was not a 
"sugar bush." 

One of the earliest moves of the pioneer was to provide him- 
self with a few buckets and a big kettle. Then, when the sap 
began to stir in early spring, trees were tapped — more or less in 
number according to the facilities at command — sap was gathered 
and boiled, and in due time made into sugar. New beginners, 
or poor people who were scant of buckets and kettles, would 
content themselves with making a small amount, to be carefully 
hoarded through the year. 

But the glory of sugar-making was in the great bush where 
hundreds of trees were tapped, where a shanty was erected in 
which the sugar-makers lodged, where the sap was gathered in 
barrels on ox-sleds and brought to the central fire, where caul- 
dron kettles boiled and bubbled day and night, where boys and 
girls, young men and maidens, watched and tasted, and tasted 
and watched, and where, when the cautious hours of manufac- 
ture were over the great cakes of solidified sweetness were turned 
out by the hundred weight. 

Money was scarce beyond the imagination of this age. Even 
after produce was raised, there was almost no market for it 
except during the war, and if it could be sold at all, after drag- 
ging it over the terrific roads to'Batavia or some point farther 
east, the mere cost of traveling to and fro would nearly eat up 
the price. Wheat at one time was but twenty-five cents a 
bushel, and it is reported of a family in the north part of the 
county, in which the good woman felt that she must have her 
tea, that eight bushels of wheat were sold to buy a pound of 
tea ; the price of wheat being twenty-five cents a bushel and 
that of tea two dollars a pound. 


A little relief was obtained by the sale of " black salts." At 
a very early period asheries were established in various parts of 
the county, where black salts were bought and converted into 
potash. These salts were the residuum from boiling down the 
lye of common wood-ashes. As there was an immense quantity 
of wood which needed to be burned in order to work the land, 
it was but little extra trouble to leach the ashes and boil the lye. 

These salts were brought to the asheries and sold. There 
they were again boiled and converted into potash. As that 
could be sent East without costing more than it was worth for 
transportation, a little money was brought into the country in 
exchange for it. In 1808 there were very few asheries but they 
afterwards became numerous. 

Social life was of course of the rudest kind. Still, there were 
visitings to and fro, and sleighing parties on ox-sleds, and other 
similar recreations. As yet there were hardly any but log tav- 
erns, and hardly a room that even by courtesy could be called 
a ball-room. Yet dances were not infrequently improvised on 
the rough floor of a contracted room, to the sound of a solitary 
fiddle in the hands of some backwoods devotee of Apollo. 

There was not, as has been seen, a church-building in the 
county, except the log meeting-house of the Quakers, at East 
Hamburg, and not an organized church, excepting the "Friends 
Meeting," if they called it a church, at that place, and the 
little Methodist society in Newstead. Even Buffalo had no 
church in 1808. Meetings were, however, held at rare intervals 
in school-houses, or in the houses of citizens, and frequently, 
when no minister was to be had, some layman would read a 
sermon and conduct the services. Dr. Chapiri sometimes per- 
formed these functions in Buffalo, besides conducting the funer- 
als, furnishing his house for dancing-school, and taking the lead 
in everything that was going forward. Some irreverent youth 
declared that the doctor '' did the praying and swearing for the 
whole community." 

Nearly every neighborhood managed to have a school as soon 
as there were children enough to form one — which was not long 
after the first settlement. The universal testimony is that log 
houses are favorable to the increase of population; at least that in 
the log-house era children multiplied and flourished to an extent 


unheard of in these degenerate days. It may be taken for 
granted, even when there is no evidence on the subject, that a 
school was kept within a very few years after the first pioneer 
located himself in any given neighborhod, and generally a log 
school -house was soon erected by the people. 

There was, at the time of the organization of Niagara county, 
only the single store of A. S. Clarke, outside of Buffalo, in what 
is now Erie county. Taverns, however, were abundant. Along 
every road men with their families were pushing forward to new 
homes, others were going back after their families, others were 
wending their way to distant localities with grain to be ground, 
with wool to be carded, sometimes even with crops to be sold. 
Consequently, on every road those who could provide beds, 
food and liquor for the travelers were apt to put up signs to 
announce their willingness to do so. 

One of the principal occasions for a jollification in the country 
was the husking-bee. Corn was abundant, and it had to be 
husked. So, instead of each man's gloomily sitting down by 
himself and doing his own work, the farmers, one after the 
other, invited the young people of the neighborhood to husk- 
ing-bees; the "neighborhood" frequently extending over several 
square miles. 

They came in the early evening, young men and women, all 
with ox teams, save where some scion of one of the first fami- 
lies brought his fair friends on a lumber wagon or sleigh, behind 
a pair of horses, the envy and admiration of less fortunate 
swains. After disposing of their teams as well as circumstances 
permitted, and after a brief warming at the house, all adjourned 
to the barn, where the great pile of ears of corn awaited their 

It was cold, but they were expected to keep warm by work. 
So at work they went, stripping the husks from the big ears and 
flinging them into piles, each husker and huskeress striving to 
make the largest pile, and the warm blood that coursed rapidly 
through their veins under the spur of exercise bidding defiance 
to the state of the temperature. 

This warmth of blood was also occasionally increased by a 
" red ear " episode. It was the law of all well-regulated husk- 
ing-bees, dating from time immemorial, that the young man to 


whose lot fell a red ear should have the privilege of kissing every 
young woman present. Some laws fail because they are not 
enforced, but this was not one of that kind. It has even been 
suspected, so eager were the youth of the period to support the 
law, that the same red ear would be found more than once the 
same evening, and the statute duly enforced on each occasion. 

A vast pile of unhusked ears was soon by many hands trans- 
ferred into shining heaps of husked ones, and then the company 
adjourned to the house, where a huge supply of doughnuts and 
other simple luxuries rewarded their labors. Possibly a bushel 
of apples might have been imported from lands beyond the 
Genesee, and if the host had also obtained a few gallons of 
cider to grace the occasion he was looked on as an Amphitryon 
of the highest order. 

Perchance some frontier fiddler was present with his instru- 
ment, when, if the rude floor afforded a space of ten feet by 
fifteen clear of fire-place and table, a dance was arranged in 
which there was abundance of enjoyment and energy, if not of 
grace, and in which the young men were only prevented from 
bounding eight feet from the floor by the fact that the ceiling 
was but six and a half feet high. 

In Buffalo there was a little closer resemblance to the society 
of older localities, but only a little. Mrs. Fox, the before-men- 
tioned daughter of Samuel Pratt, relates that up to the time 
of the war the greater part of the society enjoyed by the Buf- 
falonians was furnished by Canada. The west side of the Ni- 
agara had been settled much earlier than the east, and naturally 
a much larger proportion of the people had attained a reasona- 
ble degree of comfort. 

With these the few Buffalonians who made pretensions to cul- 
ture were on terms of cordial intimacy. Visits were frequently 
exchanged, and during the long, cold winters it was a common 
thing for two or three Buffalo gentlemen to hitch up their sleighs, 
fill them with their friends, male and female, and drive across 
the ice to the hospitable residences of some of their Canadian 
acquaintances, where they were greeted with a ready welcome 
and ample cheer. Similar excursions were made from Canada 
to the homes of Captain Pratt, Dr. Chapin, Judge Tupper and 


In the sleighs which thus drove back and forth, and which 
ghded along the few streets of the frontier village at that pe- 
riod, the male figures were invariably clad in long overcoats, (or 
surtouts,) with broad capes, covered with a number of little 
capes, or " shingles," as they were then called, while the whole 
was surmounted by a big fur cap. Fur was cheap and abund- 
ant, and the fur cap was the universal head-wear of the mascu- 
line Buffalonian. The ladies, too, were well enveloped in fur, 
and each fair face retreated into the depths of a vast " coal scut- 
tle " bonnet, which would have held a dozen bonnets of this 
degenerate era, and still have had room for the owner's head. 

Arriving at their destination, and doffing their out-door 
clothing, the ladies appeared in the narrowest of skirts, and 
waists close up to their arms, while broad lace collars surrounded 
their necks, and pointed shoes adorned their feet. 

The gentlemen displayed themselves on state occasions in 
blue, "swallow-tailed," brass-buttoned coats, buff vests and snuff- 
colored trowsers, and above their ruffled shirts shone smooth 
faces fresh from the razor, which had removed every particle of 
beard save when some very stylish exquisite had left a diminu- 
tive side-whisker to adorn the upper part of his cheek. 

The increase of population in Buffalo had not been rapid. 
The exact number of families at the time it was made the county- 
seat is not known, but was probably about thirty-five, as the 
next year it was forty-three. There was, also, as in all new 
places, a considerable number of unmarried men, engaged in 
various kinds of business. 

Besides these, there was a truly "floating population" of In- 
dians, squaws and papooses, for whom Buffalo was the grand 
metropolis. Hardly a day passed in which a number of these 
children of the forest might not have seen on the streets, the 
men sauntering aimlessly along, or seeking to obtain whisky of 
whomsoever they could, the squaws frequently engaged in more 
honorable occupations. Sometimes they (the squaws) brought 
baskets of corn on their heads ; sometimes chickens and eggs. 
Capt. Pratt's store: was the principal rendezvous of Indian trade 
and travel. Mrs. Fox remembers that one squaw, whom she 
calls White Seneca, (there was also an Indian who went by that 
name) used regularly to bring butter to her mother, Mrs. Pratt. 


Both Indians and white men brought in a great deal of game. 
In the winter great sled-loads of deer would be driven up to 
Capt. Pratt's door, and sold out to the villagers at the cheapest 
imaginable rates. 

To Pratt, the Indians according to his daughter's recollection 
gave the honorable title of "Negurriyu," meaning "hortest 
dealer." The history of the Pratt family gives his Indian name 
as "Hodanidaoh," meaning "a merciful man." It is not improb- 
able that both were used. The Indians were fond of giving 
names. Notwithstanding the general respect for him, yet some 
of them were not averse to defrauding him if possible; a task 
rendered somewhat difficult by his quick eye and ready wit. 

All fur was bought by weight ; so they sometimes brought 
beaver-skins with the claws filled with lead. It would not do to 
discover it openly ; that would give mortal offence and drive 
away a valuable customer. So "Negurriyu" would clip off the 
claws with a hatchet and toss them in a corner, saying at the 
same time that he would make proper allowance in the weight. 
If the Indian murmured Pratt would offer to pick up the claws 
and weigh them separately, but as this would expose the cheat 
the red man would vigorously demur, and the affair would pass 
over without further trouble. 

A still more disreputable aborigine came near involving Capt. 
P. in serious difficulty. While he was building his house Mrs. 
Pratt had some meat boiling in a kettle out of doors. An In- 
dian commonly known as "Peter Gimlet" was lounging about, 
and the savory smell of the boiling meat was too much for his 
feeble conscience. When he thought himself unobserved he 
suddenly snatched the largest piece from the pot, hid it beneath 
his blanket and started for the reservation. But little Esther 
happened to be playing near and saw the felonious transac- 
tion. Immediately she ran to her father in the store, crying 
out, "Peter Gimlet has stolen the meat! Peter Gimlet has stolen 
the meat!" 

Pratt sent his son Asa after the offender, who caught him 
and brought him back. The captain opened Peter's blanket, 
exposed the theft and then proceeded to administer summary 
punishment by laying a horsewhip around the back and legs of 
the thief. The latter stood astonished for a minute, and then, 


as the blows continued, he bounded away toward the Indian 
village, making the forest ring with his howls. 

The captain replaced his whip and returned to his business. 
A few hours after, Indians began to arrive in front of the store. 
Without a word they seated themselves on their haunches in 
the street. Presently came more Indians and assumed the same 
position ; then squaws with their papooses. Then more In- 
dians, including chiefs of high degree, all squatting down in 
a semi-circle before the store door. Matters began to look de- 
cidedly serious. 

And still the Indians kept coming, until 2 o'clock in the after- 
noon, when there were two or three hundred of them. Then 
they sent for Pratt, who duly appeared, when, with the utmost 
decorum, the proceedings began. Farmer's Brother stood up 
and told the story as he had heard it from Peter Gimlet, de- 
scribing how he had been flogged, without cause, by the pale- 
face, and claiming redress in the name of his insulted honor. 

Captain Pratt, in reply, made his statement, relating the 
theft, and calling on his daughter as a witness. Little Esther 
told her story in an artless way that confounded the thief, and 
carried conviction to the hearts of the numerous judges. 

A solemn consultation was had among the chiefs. Then 
P'armer's Brother again upraised his gigantic form, and with all 
the impressiveness of his seventy years delivered judgment. It 
was to the effect that Peter Gimlet (calling him by his Indian 
name) was a bad Indian. Peter Gimlet had stolen Ncgurriyu's 
meat, and Negurriyu had inflicted deserved punishment, and if 
Negurriyu wished he might whip him again. Pie also pro- 
nounced a formal sentence against Peter of banishment from 
the Buffalo reservation. Then the council broke up, and Peter 
slunk away into the forest and was not heard of in that vicinity 
for two or three years. 

It detracts a little from the stern justice of these proceedings 
that Capt. Pratt thought it incumbent on him, in accordance 
with Indian custom, to make a present to the members of this 
curious court. Accordingly he rolled out a barrel of salt for 
them, of which every one took a portion until all was gone. 

At another time Esther Pratt had taken her infant sister, Lucy 
Ann, into the store and seated her on the counter. Suddenly a 

i66 "THE devil's ramrod." 

Seneca squaw caught up the child and sprang away toward the 
forest. She was pursued and caught, and the infant was rescued. 
When questioned as to her motive, the squaw said that she had 
lately lost a child and desired to obtain one in its place. 

The most startling event, however, in the Indian experience 
of the Pratts was when they were interrupted at the dinner table 
by one of the boys, Benjamin, rushing into the room, closely 
pursued by a warrior generally known as "The Devil's Ramrod," 
who was brandishing his knife and threatening to kill him. The 
boy had been teasing him, and it was with much difficulty that 
he could be appeased. At length he exclaimed, "Me no kill 
Hodanidaoh's boy," stuck his knife with savage emphasis into 
the door-post, and. strode haughtily away. 

Generally, however, the Indians were peaceable and well be- 
haved. Farmer's Brother resided at Farmer's Point, the first 
cabin from the village line, on the reservation. Farther up, and 
just above Seneca street, was the old council house, a block 
building where the Indians were very fond of meeting in legis- 
lative session. Near it lived "White Seneca," his son "Seneca 
White" and others. Still farther out was- the main Indian vil- 
lage, where Red Jacket resided, and which was scattered over a 
considerable space on both sides of the Aurora road, west of the 
present village of Ebenezer, and on the flats south of that village. 

At this time the usual Indian residences were log cabins, of 
various dimensions and pretensions, but not differing greatly 
from those of the pioneers. 

Apropos of Indians and log-cabins, a story is told of Farmer's 
Brother in Stone's Life of Red Jacket, which illustrates the 
difficulty of expressing a new idea in the Indian dialects, except 
by the most elaborate description. At a very early day, he 
with other chiefs went from Buffalo creek to (I think) Elmira, 
to meet some white commissioners. On their way they Stopped 
one night at a log-tavern, newly erected in the wilderness. In 
describing their journey to the whites, he said they stayed at "a 
house put together with parts of trees piled on each other, to 
which a pole was attached, to which a board was tied, on which 
was written 'rum is sold here.'" 

In 1808 Farmer's Brother was recognized as the principal man 
among the Indians, all things considered, though Red Jacket 


was put forward whenever they wanted to make a display in the 
eyes of the whites. He seems, too, to have been accorded by 
general consent the rank, so far as there was any such rank, of 
principal sachem, or civil chief of the Senecas. Farmer's 
Brother was a war-chief 

Many of the whites attributed a supremacy of some kind to 
Guienguatoh, commonly called "Young King," and sometimes 
"Young Smoke." He was said to be the son of Sayengeraghta, 
otherwise "Old King," otherwise "Old Smoke," who was un- 
doubtedly up to the time of his death principal civil sachem of 
the Senecas. 

Rev. Asher Wright, of the Cattaraugus mission, explained 
while living that Guienguatoh meant in substance "the Smoke 
Bearer," that is, the hereditary bearer of the smoking brand 
from the central council-fire of the Iroquois confederacy to that 
of the Seneca nation. As near as I can make out, the whites 
got the two names intermingled, by thinking that father and son 
must both have the same name or title ; whereas the only thing 
certain about Indian nomenclature was that they would not have 
the same name or title. 

I imagine that the true designations were " Old King " and 
" Young Smoke." That is to say, Sayengeraghta, being an 
aged head-sachem, might fairly be called " Old King," while his 
son, who inherited from his maternal uncle the position of brand- 
bearer, could properly be termed " Young Smoke." But the 
whites, thinking that the .son of "Old King" must certainly be 
"Young King," applied that title to the younger man, which he 
was not unwilling to wear. They also gave the son's appellation 
to the father, -sometimes calling him "Old Smoke," and I under- 
stand that it was from the old man that Smoke's creek derived 
its name. 

If Red Jacket was sincere when he professed to Washington 
his desire for improvement, he soon changed his mind, and from 
early in this century to the time of his death was the inveterate 
enemy of civilization, Christianity and education. Although he 
understood English when he heard it, he generally pretended 
to the contrary, and would pay no attention to what was said to 
him in that language. He could only speak a few words of 
English, and would not learn it, though he could easily have 

l68 "MOVE ALONG, JO." 

done so. He was never weary of holding councils with the 
whites, and rarely failed to repeat the story of the wrongs their 
countrymen had done to the Indians. 

Numerous are the anecdotes told of his opposition to his peo- 
ple's learning anything from the whites. More than once he 
said to the missionaries who sought to convert him : 

" Go, preach to the people of Buffalo ; if you can make them 
decent and sober, and learn them not to cheat the Indians and 
each other, we will believe in your religion." 

He declared that the educated Indians learned useless art 
and artificial wants. Said he : 

" They become discouraged and dissipated ; despised by the 
Indians, neglected by the whites, and without value to either ; 
less honest than the former and perhaps more knavish than the 

Again, he said to some missionaries, in sarcastic rejection of 
their offers : 

" We pity you, and wish you to bear to our good friends in 
the East our best wi.shes. Inform them that, in compassion 
toward them, we are willing to send them missionaries to teach 
them our religion, habits and customs." 

He was sarcastic, too, on another point : 

" Before the whites came," said he, " the papooses were all 
black-eyed and dark-skinned ; now their eyes are turning blue 
and their skins are fading out." 

Professor Ellicott Evans, grand-nephew of Joseph Ellicott, 
relates an anecdote which he says he had from the lips of his 
grand-uncle, concerning himself and Red Jacket. It is sub- 
stantially as follows : 

The two having met in Tonawanda swamp, they sat down 
on a log which happened to be convenient, both being near the 
middle. Presently Red Jacket said, in his almost unintelligible 
English : 

" Move along, Jo." Ellicott did so and the sachem moved up 
to him. In a few minutes came another request : 

" Move along, Jo " ; and again the agent complied, and the 
chieftain followed. Scarcely had this been done when Red 
Jacket again said : 

"Move along, Jo!" Much annoyed, but willing to humor 

RED jacket's tomahawk. 1 69 

him, and not seeing what he was driving at, Ellicott complied, 
this time reaching the end of the log. But that was not suffi- 
cient, and presently the request was repeated for the third time: 

" Move along, Jo ! " 

" Why, man," angrily replied the agent, " I can't move any 
farther without getting off from the log into the mud." 

"Ugh! Just so white man. Want Indian move along — move 
along. Can't go no farther, but he say — ' move along 1 ' " 

The sachem had become extremely dissipated, and his Wash- 
ington medal. was frequently pawned in Buffalo for whisky. 
He always managed to recover it, however, for, though he op- 
posed all white teachings, his vanity led him to cherish this 
memento of the great white chieftain's favor. 

He was disposed to stand much on his dignity, and some- 
times to be very captious. He once went, attended by his in- 
terpreter. Major Jack Berry, and requested David Reese, the 
blacksmith for the Indians, to make him a tomahawk, at the 
same time giving directions as to the kind of weapon he wanted. 
Reese made it, as near as he could, according to order, but when 
Red Jacket returned he was much dissatisfied. 

Again he gave his orders, and again Reese strove to fulfill 
them, but the sachem was more dissatisfied than before. So he 
went to work and with much labor whittled out a wooden pat- 
tern of a tomahawk, declaring that if the blacksmith would 
make one exactly like that he would be satisfied. 

"All right," said Reese, who had by this time got out of pa- 
tience with what he considered the chieftain's whims. 

In due time Red Jacket came to get his tomahawk. It was 
ready, and was precisely like the model. But, after looking at it 
and then at the model for a moment, he flung it down with an 
angry " Ugh," and left the shop. It was exactly like the model, 
but the model had no hole in it for a handle. 



1808 AND 1809. 

First County Officers.— County Buildings.— First Indictment. — Organization of 
Clarence. — Settlement of Cheektovvaga.— Settlement on Cayuga Creek.— 
Progress in the South Towns. — A Pioneer Funeral. — Springville. — Sardinia. 
— Further Progress. — Glezen Fillmore.— Buffalo in 1809.— Origin of "Black 
Rock."— Porter, Barton & Co.— "The Horn Breeze. "—Straightening Main 
Street. — The First Buffalo Church. 

The governor appointed Augustus Porter, living near Niagara 
Falls, as "first judge" of the new Court of Common Pleas, having 
jurisdiction over Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua coun- 
ties. His four associates were probably Samuel Tupper and 
Erastus Granger of Buffalo, James Brooks of Cattaraugus 
county, and Zattu Cushing of Chautauqua county. Asa Ran- 
som was appointed sheriff, Louis Le Couteulx county clerk, and 
Archibald S. Clarke surrogate. The latter gentleman was also 
elected the same year as member of assembly from the district 
composed of the three new counties. 

The appointment of Ransom as sheriff compelled him to re- 
sign his lieutenant-colonelcy, and Timothy S. Hopkins was 
appointed in his place. This, with the cashiering of Maybee, 
left both majors' positions vacant. Capt. Warren, not yet twen- 
ty-four, was made first major, and Asa Chapman second major. 
In July, 1808, there were but four attorneys in Niagara county, 
as we learn from a letter of Juba Storrs, a young man bred to 
the law, who was preparing to go into practice at Buffalo, but 
soon abandoned the intention. Of these Walden was one, and 
the others were probably Bates Cooke of Lewiston, John Root 
and Jonas Harrison. In this letter Storrs prophesied that Buf- 
falo would " eventually be the Utica, and more than the Utica, of 
this western country." 

Immediately after the formation of the new counties, the 
Holland Company began the erection of a frame court-house in 
the middle of Onondaga (Washington) street, directly in front 


of the site of what this generation has known as the " Old Court 
House." They gave half an acre of land, lying in a circle 
around it, to the county. It was finished in 1809. 

The first court was held at Landon's, in June, 1808. No rec- 
ord of the proceedings remains, but at the session in November, 
1808, an indictment was presented which has survived all the 
accidents of war and time, and is still on file in Erie county 
clerk's office, or was previous to the latest removal of the rec- 
ords. It charged five men, described as " labourers of the town 
of Erie," with stealing a cow in 1806. As the "town of Erie" 
had ceased to exist when the indictment was found, the de- 
scription must have referred to the time when the crime was 

The document -was commcndably brief, containing only a hun- 
dred and one words. Peter Vandeventer was foreman of the 
grand jury. The district attorney was William Stewart, of one 
of the eastern counties, for the territory in charge of a single 
district attorney then extended more than half way to Albany. 
The selection of Buffalo as county-seat of course gave an 
impetus to immigration, and there were more lots bought in 
1808 than in any previous year. Jabez Goodell, Elisha Ensign, 
A. C. Fox, Oilman FoLsom, Henry Ketchum, Zebulon Ketchum 
and Joshua Lovejoy all came about this time. 

Henry Anguish made the first settlement in the vicinity of 
Tonawanda village, in 1808. Among the new comers to Am- 
herst was John Long, whose son. Christian Long, then thirteen 
years old, still resides at the west end of Williamsville. He says 
that, when he came, Williams had two saw-mills running, 
showing that settlement in that vicinity had increased so that 
one could not supply the demand for lumber. For grinding, 
however, all that part of the country still depended on Ran- 
som's mill. There were then but two or three houses about 
Williamsville, and Samuel McConnell kept a log tavern on the 
west side of the creek. 

The first town-meeting in Clarence, which it will be remem- 
bered included the whole north part of Erie county, was held 
in the spring of 1808 at Elias Ransom's tavern, two miles west 
of Williamsville, in the present town of Amherst. The town- 
book has been preserved from that time to this, and is now in 


the town clerk's office at Clarence Center, being the oldest rec- 
ord in the county pertaining to any town now in existence. 
The officers then elected (aside from postmasters) were the 
following : 

Jonas Williams, supervisor; Samuel Hill, Jr., town clerk ; 
Timothy S. Hopkins, Aaron Beard and Levi Felton, assessors ; 
Otis R. Hopkins, collector ; Otis R. Hopkins, Francis B. Drake 
and Henry B. Annabill, constables ; Samuel Hill, Jr., Asa Harris 
and Asa Chapman, commissioners of highways, and James 
Cronk, poormaster. 

There must have been a combination against the Buffalonians, 
for not one of those above named resided in the new county-seat, 
except, possibly, constable Annabill. One of the town-ordinan- 
ces of that year offered a bounty of five dollars for wolves, and 
another declared that fences should be five feet high, and not 
more than two inches between the rails. They must have made 
very small rails in Clarence. 

Licenses to sell liquor were granted to Joseph Landon, Zenas 
Barker, Frederick Miller, Elias Ransom, Samuel McConnell, Asa 
Harris, Levi Felton, Peter Vandeventer and Asa Chapman. 

In this year, (1808) the first permanent settlement was made in 
what is now Cheektowaga (except possibly on the northern edge) 
by ApoUos Hitchcock, on the land still occupied by his descend- 
ants. His son, Alexander, (with whom I conversed a year 
ago, but who has since met his death by accident,) was then 
eighteen. He told me that the first grain they raised was car- 
ried on horseback across the reservation to Stephens' mill. Ran- 
som's was a little nearer, but was sometimes scant of water. 

The Indian trail ran between his father's residence and Cay- 
uga creek, and he said the only trouble they ever received from 
the red men was when the latter found the white man's fences 
built across their favorite track ; then they were apt to fling 
them down and stalk on, careless of the endangered crop. The 
wolves howled their nightly serenade around the sheep-fold, and 
the bears were, as the old gentleman expressed it, "sufficiently 
numerous," but deer were comparatively scarce, owing doubtless 
to the industry of the Indian hunters. 

In 1808, Benjamin Clark, Pardon Peckham and Capt. Elias 
Bissell settled about a mile east of the center of the present 


town of Lancaster. Mr. Clark's son, James, then twelve years 
old, now an active old gentleman of eighty, informs me that 
there were then just twelve houses on that road between Buffalo 
and the east line of the county. All the south part of what is 
now Lancaster was then known as the Cayuga Creek settlement', 
or simply as "Cayuga Creek." About the same time Calvin 
Fillmore, afterwards known as Colonel Fillmore, built a saw- 
mill at what is now called Bowmansville, probably the first in 

On the north side of Little Buffalo creek, in Lancaster, is an 
ancient fortification enclosing an acre of ground, and said by 
Turner to have been when first discovered as high as a man's 
breast. There were five gateways, in one of which grew a pine 
tree, believed by lumbermen to be five hundred years old. 
There is ample evidence that a long time ago men who built 
breastworks dwelt in Erie county, but very little evidence that 
they were radically different from the American Indians. 

Among other settlers in Hamburg was Jacob Wright, who, 
about 1808, located himself and opened a tavern near what is 
now called Abbott's Corners, which ere long became known as 
Wright's Corners. Among the illustrations of the enterprise 
and invention of those days, may be noted the operations of 
Daniel Smith with his little corn-mill. Thinking that he could 
do more business in the valley of the Eighteen-Mile, he moved 
it over there, just above the site of White's Corners. But the 
building of a dam was beyond his resources, and needless for 
that size of mill. So he felled a big hemlock across the stream, 
fastened some more logs to it, and thus created an obstruction 
which threw enough water around the end of the tree to run his 

Obadiah and Reuben Newton settled in the Smith neighbor- 
hood in 1808, and later it has generally been called the Newton 

The Quakers had increased so that in 1808 they held "month- 
ly meetings" at their meeting-house at East Hamburg. 

In Aurora, settlement had progressed so that in 1808 the in- 
habitants erected a frame school-house, one of the first in the 
county. Before it was finished school was kept in a log school- 
house by Miss Phebe Turner, daughter of Jacob Turner, of 


Wales, then a young lady of twenty, now the venerable but still 
active widow of Judge Paine. 

Ethan Allen, who had purchased land in Wales before, bought 
a large tract near Hall's Hollow in 1808 and moved on to it, 
making it his home through a long and active life. Besides the 
Holmeses, mentioned in chapter 23, Charles Blackmar, Benja- 
min Earl, James Morrison, Samuel Searls and others were 
purchasers (and mostly settlers) of this year. 

Among the new comers in Boston was Asa Gary, a brother 
of Richard. With him came his son, Truman Gary, then a 
youth of sixteen, now a hale old man of eighty-four, engaged 
in the active superintendence of his farm, to whom I am very 
largely indebted for facts regarding the early history of the 
south towns. 

During that summer Deacon Richard Gary was called on to 
go ten miles through the forest to lead in the funeral ceremonies 
over the body of Mrs. Albro, wife of one of the only two set- 
tlers at Springville. There was no minister anywhere in that 
part of the country, and all that could be done to give Ghristian 
burial to the departed was to send for sympathising neighbors 
ten or twelve miles distant, and ask the good deacon to repeat 
a prayer and read a sermon over her inanimate form. 

Mr. Albro went away after the death of his wife, leaving Stone 
alone. In October, however, Mr. Samuel Gochran came, made 
a small clearing, put up a log house and went after his family. 
In November, John Russell, afterwards long and well known as 
Deacon Russell, brought his family to the same locality. 

In the forepart of the winter Cochran returned with his wife 
and infant child. The only route to Springville from the East, 
then, was first to Buffalo, then up the beach to the Titus stand, 
then up the Eighteen-Mile to the farthest settlements in its val- 
ley, and then across the ridge. The last part of the way Coch- 
ran followed blazed trees, and some of the time had to cut his 
own road. The three families of Stone, Russell and Cochran 
were all there were in that vicinity in the winter of 1808-9. 

Stone left in the summer of 1809, but Albro returned. James 
Vaughan and Samuel Cooper bought near there in 1809, and 
soon became permanent residents, and several other settlers 
came in. 


Jacob Taylor, as chief of the Quaker mission, built a saw-mill 
at Taylor's Hollow, in Collins, and a grist-mill also about 1809. 
Perhaps it was this that induced Abraham Tucker and others, 
with their families, to settle near there in that year. Tucker lo- 
cated in the edge of North Collins, where he built him a cabin, 
covered it with bark and remained with his family. Stephen 
Sisson came the same year. Sylvanus Hussey, Isaac Hatha- 
way and Thomas Bills purchased land the same year, and some 
of them were probably among the companions of Tucker. 
Settlements were made close to the line between North Collins 
and Collins ; perhaps some in the latter town. 

In that year, too, George Richmond, with his sons, George 
and Frederick, located himself three miles east of Springville, 
near the southeast corner of the present town of Sardinia, where 
he soon opened a tavern. That same year young Frederick 
Richmond taught the first school in the present town of Boston. 
The same summer, (1809,) Ezra Nott settled between what is 
now called Rice's Corners and Colegrove's Corners, becoming the 
pioneer of all the eastern 'part of Sardinia. He was a nephew 
of Jabez Warren, and in company with his cousins, Asa and 
Sumner Warren, built and burned the first brush-heap in that 
township — a fact to which, when he had become a general and 
a prominent citizen, he often referred with the pride of a true 

Emigration began to roll into the future town of Holland. 
Ezekiel Colby settled in the valley, and soon after came Jona- 
than Colby, who still survives, being well-known as " Old Col- 
onel Colby." Nathan Colby located on the north part of Ver- 
mont Hill, and about the same time Jacob Farrington settled 
on the south part, east of the site of Holland village, where 
there was not as yet a single house — another instance of the 
curious readiness of many of the first comers to neglect the 
valleys for the hill-tops. 

Going westward we find the Boston people at length rejoicing 
in a grist-mill, erected this .year by Joseph Yaw. According to 
Gen. Warren's recollection, Mr. Yaw was elected supervisor of 
Willink in both 1868 and 1809. The Willink records were 
burned with those of Aurora in 1831, so it is not certain. 

The first settlement in the present town of Eden was made 


this year. Elisha Welch and Deacon Samuel Tubbs located at 
what is now known as Eden Valley, but which for a long time 
bore the less romantic appellation of Tubbs' Hollow. 

In this year, too, Aaron Salisbury and William Cash made the 
first permanent settlement in the present town of Evans, west 
of Harvey's tavern at the mouth of the Eighteen-Mile. Salis- 
bury was a young, unmarried man. Cash had several sons, since 
well known in the town. His brother David Cash, Nathaniel 
Leigh, John Barker, Anderson Tyler, Seth and Martin Sprague 
and others came not long after, and all settled near the lake 
shore, where the only road ran. 

Besides Samuel Calkins, David Rowley and others, Timothy 
and Oren Treat settled in Aurora in 1809. Oren Treat, then 
nearly twenty-two years old, located himself on a farm a little 
east of Griffin's Mills, where he has ever since resided. It is 
only this year that he has given up its active superintendence, 
though almost eighty-nine years of age. He informs me that 
Humphrey Smith built a grist-mill at what is now called 
Griffin's Mills in 1809, though it was not finished till the next year. 
Like most of the pioneer mills, it was of a very primitive con- 
struction, the bolt being at first turned by hand. 

In Wales there was a considerable increase of the population ; 
Peleg Havens, Welcome Moore and Isaac Reed being among 
the new comers. 

There was a large immigration into the north part of the 
county this year. Isaac Denio, John Millerman and Benjamin 
Ballou were among those who settled in the present town of 
Newstead. Archibald S. Clarke was again elected to the as- 

Most of those who came into Clarence still located them- 
selves in the southern part of the township, but Matthias Van- 
tine moved into the wilderness four miles north of Harris Hill. 
His son, David Vantine, then a youth of fifteen, now a sturdy 
old man of eighty-two, says there was not a family north of the 
limestone ledge when his father settled there. A little further 
north was what was then called the Tonawanda swamp. 

A young man of twenty-one, since well known as Colonel Bea- 
man, located three miles north of Clarence Hollow that same 
summer. For sixty-seven years he has remained on the same 


farm. When I conversed with him in 1875, he said that at the 
time he came there was not a house on the north, through to the 
vicinity of Lockport. 

Another of the new comers into Clarence was destined to 
wield a strong influence throughout not only Erie county but 
Western New York. I refer to the Rev. Glezen Fillmore. He 
was then a bright, pleasant, yet earnest youth of nineteen, with 
the well-known, strong, Fillmore features, and stalwart Fillmore 

Having been licensed in March, 1809, as a Methodist ex- 
horter, the youthful champion of the cross immediately set forth 
from his home in Oneida county, on foot, with knapsack on his 
back, traveling two hundred miles through the snow and mud 
of early spring, to begin his labors in the wilderness of the Hol- 
land Purchase. 

Arriving in the neighborhood where his uncle Calvin resided, 
he at once went to work. His first preaching was at the house 
of David Hamlin. A man named Maltby and his wife were 
the only listeners except Hamlin's family, but the young ex- 
horter bravely went through with the entire services, including 
class-meeting. It is to be presumed that he felt rewarded when, 
in after years, he learned that four of Maltby's sons had become 
Methodist ministers. 

Young Fillmore procured land, and throughout his life made 
his home, at Clarence Hollow, though spending many years at 
a distance, on whatever service might be allotted to him. In the 
fall of 1809 he returned to Oneida county, married Miss Lavina 
Atwell, and brought her back to his frontier home. 

Mrs. Fillmore, in later years widely known as " Aunt Vina," 
shared her husband's toils, and when I saw her a year since, at 
the age of eighty-eight, her form was still unbent and her eye 
undimmed, and she would easily have passed for seventy. She 
stated that there was already a Methodist society at Clarence 
Hollow when she came, probably organized the summer before. 

Samuel Hill, Jr., was elected supervisor of Clarence for the 
year 1809. As near as I can learn it was in that year, though 
possibly a little later, that Otis R. Ingalls opened the first store 
in the present town of Clarence, at Ransomville, now Clarence 


Meanwhile the little village at the mouth of Buffalo creek 
kept creeping along toward its destined greatness. Fortunately 
we have the means of ascertaining its exact position in 1809. 

In October, Erastus Granger, who had lately been appointed 
collector of customs for the new district of Buffalo Creek, wrote 
to the Secretary of the Treasury, protesting against the proposed 
removal of the custom-house to Black Rock. Comparing the 
grandeur of Buffalo with the insignificance of Black Rock, he 
declared that the former had a population of no less than forty- 
three families, besides unmarried men engaged in business, 
and that the court-house and jail were " nearly completed." 

The same letter contributes largely to settle a question which 
has been raised as to the origin of the name " Black Rock." It 
is generally attributed to a large, flat, dark-colored rock lying at 
the base of the bluff, where the boats used to land. Some have 
supposed, however, that it was derived from Bird Island, which 
was also a dark rock situated a short distance out in the river, 
and much farther up. A remark made by President Dwight of 
Yale College, in his journal of travels in this vicinity, in 1804, 
shows that he then supposed Bird Island to be the original 
" Black Rock." 

But Judge Granger had resided at Buffalo ever since 1803, 
and he had evidently no such idea. In the letter just men- 
tioned, he says that Porter, Barton & Co. have built a store "on 
the Rock," and adds that besides Frederick Miller's temporary 
house under the bank, where a ferry-house and tavern are kept, 
one white family and two black families comprise the popula- 
tion. He goes on to say that lake vessels lie at the head 
of the rapids "a little below a reef called Bird Island, one 
mile from Black Rock and one and three fourths miles from 
Buffalo." It is quite plain that Judge G. looked on the original 
Rock as being at the foot of the rapids, and the ideas of a per- 
manent resident since 1803 are certainly entitled to far more 
weight than those of a mere traveler. Some other circum- 
stances have been adduced in favor of Bird Island as the origi- 
nal Black Rock, but they arc, I think, decidedly overbalanced 
by the testimony in favor of the " rock " on shore. 

For the time being the port of entry remained at Buffalo. 

In his letter, Mr. Granger stated that a motion looking toward 


removal had been made in Congress by Peter B. Porter. This 
gentleman had been elected to Congress the year before, from 
the westernmost district of New York, and was as yet a resident 
of Canandaigua. His elder brother, Augustus Porter, the new 
first-judge of Niagara county, Benjamin Barton, Jr., and himself, 
had formed a partnership under the name of Porter, Barton & 
Co., and were the principal forwarders of eastern goods to the 
West. Their route was by way of Oneida lake, Oswego and 
Ontario, to Lewiston ; thence by land-carriage around the Falls 
and by vessel up Lake Erie. Of the few sail-vessels then run- 
ning on Lake Erie, owned on the American side, probably more 
than half were owned by Porter, Barton & Co. 

Their ships had the same difficulty in ascending the rapids 
that had beset the Griffin a hundred and thirty years before. 
To overcome it they provided a number of yoke of oxen to 
drag vessels up the rapids. The sailors dubbed these auxilia- 
ries the " Horn Breeze." 

Porter, Barton & Co., joined with others, had also bought a 
tract of eight hundred acres, extending from Scajaquada creek 
south to near Breckenridge street. South of that was a lot of 
a hundred acres given by the State for a ferry, and still farther 
on was South Black Rock, where the State authorities intended 
to lay out a village extending to the " mile line " on the west 
side of Buffalo. 

As to Buffalo creek, all agree that it was worthless for a har- 
bor, on account of the bar at the mouth. All sail vessels 
stopped at Black Rock, and only a few open boats came into 
the creek. 

It was in 1809 that the authorities, who must have been the 
highway commissioners of Clarence, straightened the main 
avenue of Buffalo, cutting off EUicott's "bay window" in front 
of outer lot 104. The great power that he exercised throughout 
the Holland Purchase makes it seem strange that they should 
have done so, but the facts are not disputed. Professor Evans 
says that he had begun to gather material for a grand mansion 
in the semi-circle, and that when the street was straightened he 
gave up the idea, and afterwards lost much of his interest in 
Buffalo. The stones he had gathered were used to help build 
the jail. Lot 104 was never subdivided or sold until after his 


death. About the time of the straightening, too, the names of 
" Willink avenue" and "Van Staphorst avenue" seem to have been 
thrown aside by general consent, and the whole was called Main 
street. The original names, however, of the other streets and 
avenues were retained for many years afterwards. 

It was not till the last of 1809 that a church was formed in 
Buffalo. Mrs. Fox agrees with Mrs. Mather, mentioned by 
Turner, that the first meetings were held in the court-house. It 
was formed by a union of Congregationalists and Presbyterians, 
under the direction of Rev. Thaddeus Osgood. Amos Callen- 
der, who came shortly after, became a leading member of the 
church. One account makes the organization still later, but I 
think the above is correct. There was still no minister except 
an occasional missionary. 

Among the new comers was another of the "big men " who by 
strength of brain and will, and almost of arm, fairly lifted Buf- 
falo over the shoals of adverse fortune. Tall, broad-shouldered, 
fair-faced and stout-hearted, young Dr. Ebenezer Johnsoii en- 
tered on the practice of his profession with unbounded zeal and 
energy in the fall of 1 809, and for nearly thirty years scarcely 
any man exercised a stronger influence in the village and city of 
his adoption. Another arrival was that of Oliver Forward, a 
brother-in-law of Judge Granger, who became deputy collector 
of customs and assistant postmaster, and who long exercised a 
powerful influence in Buffalo. 




Town of "Buffaloe." — New Militia Regiments. — Buffalo Business. — Peter B. Porter 
— Tonawanda. — Store at Williamsville.— Clarence. — Settlement of Alden. — 
James Wood. — A Wolfish Salute. — An Aged Couple. — Colden. — Richard 
Buffum. — Springville. — Tucker's Table. — A Crowded Cabin. — Turner 
Aldrich. — The "Hill Difficulty." — Sardinia. — A Resolute Woman. — Boston 
and Eden. —Unlucky Sheep. — Evans. — Bears and Hedge-hogs. — A Store too 
soon. — Crossing the Reservation. — A Mill-race as a Fish Trap. — Buffalo 
Firms. — H. B. Potter.— The Buffalo Gazette. — Feminine Names.— Old-Time 
Books. — An Erudite Captain. — "Buffalo-e." — The Unborn Reporter. — In- 
flation of the Marriage List. — Divers Advertisements. — "A Delinquent and 
a Villain." — Morals and Lotteries. — The Two Chapins. — A Medical Melee. 
— A Federal Committee. — Division of Willink. — Hamburg, Eden and Con- 
cord. — Approach of War. — Militia Officers. — An Indian Council. — A Vessel 
Captured. — The War Begun. 

This chapter relates principally to the years 1810 and 1811, 
but will be extended to the beginning of the war, in June, l8i2. 

In the iirst-named year the United States census was taken, 
and the population of Niagara county was found to be 6,132. 
Of these just about two thirds were in the present county of 

In that year, too, the name "Buffalo," or "Buffaloe," was first 
legally applied to a definite tract of territory. On the lothday 
of February, a law was passed erecting the town of "Buffaloe," 
comprising all that part of Clarence west of the West Transit. 
In other words, it comprised the present city of Buffalo, the 
towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, Amherst and Cheektowaga, 
and the north part of West Seneca ; being about eighteen miles 
long north and south, and from eight to sixteen miles wide east 
and west. Another event considered of much importance in 
those days was the formation of new militia regiments. The 
men subject to military duty in Buffalo and Clarence were con- 
stituted a regiment, under Lieut. Col. Asa Chapman, then living 
near Buffalo. Samuel Hill, Jr., of Newstead, was one of his 
majors. The men of Willink formed another regiment, and 


young Major Warren was promoted to lieutenant-colonel com- 
manding. His majors were William C. Dudley, of Evans, and 
Benjamin Wlialey, who was or had been a resident of Boston. 
There was also a regiment in Cambria, and one in Chautauqua 
county, and the whole was under the command of Brigadier- 
General Timothy S. Hopkins. 

The mercantile business of Buffalo began to increase. Juba 
Storrs, having abandoned the law, formed a partnership with 
Benjamin Caryl and Samuel Pratt, Jr., under the firm name of 
Juba Storrs & Co., which took high rank in the little commer- 
cial world of Buffalo. In 1810, the junior member, Mr. Pratt, 
was appointed sheriff, and Mr. Storrs himself, county clerk. 
Eli Hart and Isaac Davis also erected and opened stores about 
that time. 

Another new settler, afterwards quite noted, was Ralph 
Pomeroy, who began the erection of a hotel on the northeast 
corner of Main and Seneca streets. Asa Coltrin, a physician, 
and John Mullett, a tailor, came about the same time. 

Dr. Daniel Chapin, who was there then, and perhaps came 
earlier, was a physician of some note, and was the principal rival 
of his namesake, Dr. Cyrenius Chapin. The two were usually at 
bitter feud. 

The most influential new comer in the county, however, was 
Peter B. Porter, who, after being reelected to Congress in the 
spring of 1810, removed from Canandaigua to Black Rock. He 
was then thirty-seven years old, unmarried, a handsome, portly 
gentleman of the old school, of smooth address, fluent speech, 
and dignified demeanor. 

At Canandaigua he had practiced at the bar, but after his re- 
moval he devoted himself to his commercial fortunes as a mem- 
ber of the firm of Porter, Barton & Co., save when attending to 
his political duties. Mr. Porter was the first citizen of Erie 
county who exercised a wide political influence. 

A few lots were sold at Black Rock in 18 10, and one or two 
small stores put up, but there were still very few residents. 

The same year the Holland Company (that is, the several in- 
dividuals commonly so-called) sold their preemption right in 
all the Indian reservations on the Purchase to David A. Ogden. 
He was acting in behalf of other parties, joined with himself, in 


the speculation, and the owners were generally called the Ogden 
Company. The whole amount of territory was about 196,000 
acres, and the purchase price $98,000. That is to say, Ogden 
and his friends gave fifty cents an acre for the sole right of buy- 
ing out the Indians whenever they should wish to sell. 

There was still very little improvement in the north part of 
Tonawanda. Robert Simpson settled about a mile from Tona- 
wanda village. His son, John Simpson, then a boy, says that 
Garret Van Slyke was then keeping tavern on the north side of 
the creek, but on this side there was nothing but forest. A 
guard-house was built on this side on the approach of war. 
Henry Anguish lived a mile up the river. The only road to 
Buffalo was along the beach. Another one had been under- 
brushed out but was not used. 

It was about 18 10 that Isaac F. Bowman opened a little store 
at Williamsville, the first in the present town of Amherst, and 
probably the third in the county, out of Buffalo. The same 
year Benjamin Bowman bought the saw-mill on Eleven-Mile 
creek, four miles above Williamsville, (in the northwest corner 
of Lancaster,) and soon after built another, and the place 
has ever since retained the name of Bowman's Mills, or Bow- 

The lowlands of township 13, range 7, being the north part of 
Amherst, had not even had a purchaser until 18 10, when Adam 
Vollmer bought two lots at $3.00 per acre. 

The same was the case in township 13, range 6, forming the 
north part of Clarence, where John Stranahan purchased at 


At the town-meeting this year Samuel Hill, Jr., was re- 
elected supervisor of Clarence, which by the erection of " Buf- 
faloe " had been reduced to a territory only eighteen miles long 
and twelve miles wide. It was also voted "that every path- 
master's yard should be a lawful pound," and that a bounty of 
$5.00 each should again be offered for wolves and panthers. 

Elder John Le Suer and Elder Salmon Bell were both minis- 
ters resident in the old town of Clarence before the war, the 
former being quite noted throughout the northern part of the 

Moses Fenno, who moved into the present town of Alden in 


the spring of 1810, is usually considered there as the first settler 
of that town, though Zophar Beach, Samuel Huntington and 
James C. Rowan had previously purchased land on its western 
edge, and it is quite likely some of them had settled there. 

It is certain, however, that Fenno was the beginner of im- 
provement in the vicinity of Alden village, and raised the first 
crops there, in the year mentioned. The same year came Joseph 
Freeman, afterwards known as Judge Freeman, William Snow 
and Arunah Hibbard. 

It was in 1801 that the present town of Wales attained to the 
dignity of a framed house. It was built by Jacob Turner, and 
his daughter, Mrs. Judge Paine, informs me that it is still stand- 
ing upon the farm of Isaac W. Gail, Esq. 

One of the new settlers in Wales in 18 10 was James Wood, 
then a youth of twenty, who, after a long and most active 
career, passed away a few months since. He informed me last 
year that when, in 1810, he began making a clearing on the flats 
just below the village of "Wood's Hollow," which derived its 
name from him, there was not a house south of him in the town- 
ship. There was no road, but on the west side of the creek 
was a well-beaten Indian trail. 

In fact the wolves were about his only neighbors, and much 
closer than he liked. Having brought a heifer and five or six 
sheep from Aurora, the young pioneer secured them in a pen, 
close to his cabin. Hearing the wolves howl at night, he went 
out, when he found them closing in all around him, and could 
hear their jaws go " snap, snap," in the darkness of the forest. 
Calling his dog to his aid, he managed to beat a retreat to his 
cabin, but he always vividly remembered the snapping of the 
wolves' jaws around him. Fortunately they were unable to get 
into the sheep-pen. 

Emigration was brisk all through the county, and log houses 
were continually rising by the wayside, but incidents of special 
interest were less common in the older settlements than among 
the first emigrants. Among the new comers in Aurora this 
year were Jonathan Bowen, Asa Palmer and Rowland Letson. 
The first church was organized in town by the Baptists. It had 
sixteen members. 

In East Hamburg, besides Stephen Kester, Elisha Clark and 


Others, William Austin, then a young man of twenty-four, set- 
tled with his wife in the Smith (or Newton) neighborhood, and 
both are s,till living in the town. This is the only instance that 
I remember of a man and woman married before the war of 
18 1 2 both of whom still survive, though there may be others. 

Mr. Austin remembers that there was a town-meeting at John 
Green's tavern, (afterwards kept by George B. Green,) when he 
first came, on the subject of dividing the town of Willink, and 
that some of the voters said they came thirty miles to attend it. 

By this time (181 1) the locality of East Hamburg village be- 
gan to be known as " Potter's Corners," from two or three prom- 
inent men of that name who had settled there. 

By this time, too, that energetic mill-builder under difficulties, 
Daniel Smith, had, in company with his brother Richard, got 
him up a regular grist-mill, near where Long's mill now stands, 
at Hamburg village, which then began to be known by the name 
of Smith's Mills. Among the settlers in the vicinity was Moses 
Dart, a still surviving citizen. 

About this time, perhaps earlier, the Messrs. Ingersoll lo- 
cated on the lake shore, in Hamburg, just below the mouth of 
the Eighteen-Mile. Shortly after their arrival they discovered 
on the summit of the high bank seven or eight hundred pounds 
of wrought iron, apparently taken off from a vessel. It was 
much eaten with rust, and there were trees growing from it ten 
to twelve inches in diameter. 

A few years before, as related by David Eddy, a fine anchor 
had been found imbedded in sand on the Hamburg lake shore. 
Ten or twelve years later two cannon were discovered on the 
beach near where the iron was found. The late James W. 
Peters, of East Evans, in a communication to the Buffalo Com- 
mercial Advertiser, reproduced in Turner's "Holland Purchase," 
stated that he saw them immediately after their di.scovery, and 
cleaned away enough of the rust to lay bare a number of letters 
on the breech of one of them. He stated that the word or words 
thus exposed were declared to be French ; he did not say by 
whom, nor what they were. 

From these data. Turner and others have inferred that the 
Griffin was wrecked at the mouth of Eighteen-Mile creek ; that 
such of the crew as escaped intrenched themselves there to resist 


the Indians, but were finally overpowered and slain. It is much 
more probable, however, that the Griffin sank amid the storms of 
the upper lakes, especially as La Salle and his three companions 
came back on foot not far from Lake Erie, doubtless making 
constant inquiries of the Indians as to any wrecked vessel. 

Mr. O. H. Marshall is very decidedly of the opinion that the 
evidences of shipwreck found on the lake shore were due to the 
loss of the Beaver, which occurred near that locality about 1765, 
and furnished an essay supporting this view to the Buffalo His- 
torical Society, which has unfortunately been lost. The size of 
the trees growing over the irons confirms Mr. Marshall's theory, 
which is in all probability correct. It is not seriously invalidated 
by the French words (if they were French,) on the cannon, as 
many English mottoes (such as " Dieu et mon droit," " Honi soit 
qui mal y pense" etc.,) are of French origin. 

Dr. John March and Silas Este settled near Eden Valley in 
1810, and Morris March, son of the former, informs me that there 
were just four families in town when they came. When the two 
families came, in March, they had to draw their wagons by hand 
on the ice across the Eighteen-Mile at Water Valley, where a 
saw-mill was about to be erected. 

Up to this time no settlement had been made in the present 
town of Golden, but in 18 10 Richard Buffum became its pioneer. 
He was a Rhode Islander of some property, and being desirous 
of emigrating westward he was requested by a number of his 
neighbors to go into an entirely new district and purchase a 
place where he could build mills, when they would settle around 

Accordingly he came to the Holland Purchase, and located on 
the site of Golden village. His son, Thomas Buffum, then 
seven years old, informs me that his father cut his own road six 
or eight miles, and then built him a log house forty feet long ! 
This is the largest log dwelling of which I have heard in all my 
researches, and is entitled to special mention. The same fall he 
put up a saw-mill. Various causes prevented the coming of the 
neighbors he had calculated on, and for a good while Mr. Buf- 
fum was very much isolated. The first year no one came ex- 
cept men whom he had hired. As, however, he had eleven 
children, he was probably not very lonesome. 

tucker's table. 187 

There was considerable emigration into Concord in 18 10. 
One of the first comers was WilHam Smith, whose son, Calvin 
C, then seven years old, names (besides Albro, Cochran and 
Russell) Jedediah Cleveland, Elijah Dunham, Mr. Person and 
Jacob Drake as residents when he came. Rufus Eaton, long an 
influential citizen, came that summer, and Jonathan Townsend 
purchased, and probably settled, in the locality which has since 
been known as Townsend Hill. Josiah Fay, Benjamin C. Fos- 
ter, Seneca Baker, Philip Van Horn, Luther Curtis and others 
came about the same time into various parts of Concord. 

There were early friends of education at Springville. Mr. 
Smith says that Anna Richmond taught the first school in the 
summer of 18 10, with only fourteen scholars, just north of the 
site of the village, in a log barn, in which a floor had been put 
made of basswood puncheons. 

In February, 18 10, Samuel Tucker, brother of Abram, the 
pioneer in North Collins of the previous year, moved into that 
town, following the Indian trail by way of Water Valley and 
Eden Center. It was the first team that passed over that trail. 
His provisions consisted principally of a barrel of flour and a 
barrel of pork ; these he rolled down some of the steepest hills, 
as he could manage them better by hand than on the sled. 

He settled a mile and a half south of North Collins village 
(Kerr's Corners). There he built a log house ; that was a mat- 
ter of course, but a piece of his furniture was entirely unique. 
Having no table he left a stump, nicely squared off, standing in 
the middle of his house, and this was the family table. His 
first wheat for seed was only procured by trading off a log- 
chain, and it was two years before the light shone through a 
glass window on his peculiar table. 

Enos Southwick came with his family the same year, and 
Abram Tucker admitted them to the shelter of his hospitable 
mansion. In that little bark -covered cabin, was born in August, 
1 8 10, George Tucker, the first white child in the towns of Col- 
lins and North Collins, and in September following, George 
Southwick, the second native of the same district. If there had 
been a stump in that house it would have been rather crowded. 
For these last facts I am indebted to Mr. George Southwick, 
of Gowanda, who ought to know as to their correctness. 


Among other settlers before the war, in North Collins, were 
Henry Tucker, Benjamin Leggett, Levi Woodward, Stephen 
White, Stephen Twining, Gideon Lapham, Noah Tripp, Abra- 
ham Gifford, Orrin Brayman, Jonathan Southwick, Hugh Mc- 
Millan, and Lilly Stafford. For most of these names 1 am in- 
debted to Humphrey Smith, Esq., of North Collins, though not 
arriving himself till just after the war, learned who were there 
before, and whose extraordinary memory has been of much 
assistance to me. 

In the spring or summer of 1810, Turner Aldrich and his 
family came up the Cattaraugus creek from the lake beach, and 
let their wagons down the "breakers" into the Gowanda flats by 
means of ropes hitched to the hind axle and payed out from 
around trees. They located on the site of Gowanda, and were 
the first family in Collins, except those near Taylor's Hollow. 

In the spring of that same year, however, Stephen Wilber, 
Stephen Peters and Joshua Palmerton came in, built a cabin 
and went to keeping bachelor's hall about a mile west of the 
site of Collins Center, where they had all bought lands. In the 
fall Wilber went back to Cayuga county. 

In March, i8ii, he returned with his family, accompanied by 
quite a colony, consisting of Allen King and wife, Luke Cran- 
dall and wife, Arnold King, John King, and Henry Palmerton. 

The Crandalls had come from Vermont, and when they started 
for the Holland Purchase Mrs. C.'s father, in accordance with 
olden custom, presented her with a bottle of rum, directing her 
not to uncork it until they reached "The Hill Difficulty;" re- 
ferring to Pilgrim's Progress. They came into Collins from the 
east and at what is now known as Woodward's Hollow they 
had to chain the sleds to trees to get down safely. At the foot 
of the ascent on the other side Mrs. Crandall said : 

"Here is 'The Hill Difficulty,' let us drink," and opened her 
bottle, presenting it first to Mrs. Wilber. Any one who has been 
at that place will appreciate her remark. 

After their arrival Mr. Wilber improvised a vehicle by falling 
a small tree, using the body for a tongue and the branches for 
runners. This was the only carriage that could be navigated 
among the numerous fallen trees. Men used to fasten a bag of 
corn to the cross-piece, and spend three days going to Yaw's 


mill in Boston. When there was not time for this they would 
use one of the stump-mortars, or "plumping-mills," before 

During the period before the war, besides those mentioned, 
there were purchases and probably settlements made by Seth 
Blossom, George Morris, Ethan Howard, Abraham Lapham, 
Ira Lapham, and Silas Howard. Smith Bartlett came but a little 

Samuel Burgess, Harry Sears and others bought near Spring- 
ville in 1811, while Benjamin Fay located at Townsend Hill. 
In fact immigrants into Concord became so numerous that Rufus 
Eaton thought it necessary to build a saw-mill in 181 1 or 1 81 2. 

New settlers were also numerous in Sardinia in 181 1 and the 
beginning of 1812. Among them were Horace Rider, Henry 
Godfrey, Randall Walker, Benjamin Wilson, Daniel Hall, Giles 
Briggs, John Cook, Henry Bowen, Smithfield Ballard and Francis 

Elihu Rice also moved there at that period, and according to 
his son's recollection brought a small stock of goods, which he 
sold in his log dwelling-house. This was quite a common way 
of improvising a store in those days. 

Ezra Nott, the first pioneer of the town, married just before 
the war, and brought in his bride, who survives in a pleasant old 
age at Sardinia village. She says they went to housekeeping 
in a cabin "with no doors and very little floor." 

Sumner Warren, a younger brother of William, also located 
in town before the war, and built a saw-mill on Mill brook, near 
the mouth. Mrs. Nott relates how his mother came to visit him, 
on horseback, from Aurora. There was no road south of the 
Humphrey settlement in Holland. Threading her way among 
the gulfs south of Holland village, she emerged on the level 
land of Sardinia. But, having occupied more time than she 
intended, night came upon her and she was unable to determine 
her course. 

Finding it useless to attempt farther progres.s, she tied her 
horse to a sapling, took off the saddle, and coolly laid down and 
waited till morning. The wolves occasionally howled in the 
distance, but were either not numerous enough or not hungry 
to venture near. How much she slept I cannot say. 


Among the new settlers in Holland at this time was Joseph 
Cooper, who located on the farm where his son Samuel, then a 
boy, still resides. At that time the latter says there was no 
road farther south than his father's place. 

A Baptist church was organized in Boston in 1811. Mr. Tru- 
man Gary states that Rev. Cyrus Andrews, a Baptist minister, 
came there the same year and preached ten years. Doubtless, 
however, he officiated in other places also, for I do not think 
there was a church in the county able to support a settled minis- 
ter. Clark Carr, also a Baptist minister, settled near the Concord 
line before the war, and preached much of the time throughout 
his life. John Twining, Lemuel Parmely, and Dorastus and 
Edward Hatch were among the new comers to Boston. The 
last named person, then twenty-two years old, still survives, 
being the earliest settler in Boston who was twenty-one years 
old when he came. Richard Sweet and one or two others joined 
Buffum's little colony in Colden. 

There was also considerable emigration to Eden that year, 
Among the new settlers were Levi Bunting, Samuel Webster. 
Joseph Thorne, James Paxon, John Welch, Josiah Gail and 
James Pound. 

Another was John Hill, who located at Eden Center, where 
he was the first settler and where three of his sons, still reside. 
They inform me that their father brought a flock of a dozen 
or two sheep all the way from Otsego county. On arriving 
at Tubbs' Hollow, the night before reaching their destination, 
the wolves got among the sheep and killed every one with a 
single exception ; the one that wore the bell. 

It did not follow from the extent of the slaughter that there 
were many animals engaged in it. A single wolf has been 
known to kill six or eight sheep out of a flock in the same raid; 
merely sucking the blood of each and then leaving it to chase 
the others. 

Numerous settlers, too, sought the handsome level lands of 
Evans. James Ayer located on the lake shore in 181 1, where 
his son now resides. The latter informs me that when they 
came Gideon Dudley was at Evans Center, David Corbin and 
Timothy Dustin near there, and a Mr. Pike near the stream 
now called Pike creek. A Mr. Palmer was then keeping tavern 


at the mouth of the Eighteen-Mile. Hezekiah Dibble also 
came before the war, becoming an influential citizen. 

Among the new comers in Hamburg were Ira Fisk, Boroman 
Salisbury, Henry Clark, Shubael Sherman and Ebenezer Inger- 
soll, while in East Hamburg there were Pardon Pierce, James 
Paxson, Joseph Hawkins and others. Dr. William Warriner 
was a physician in Hamburg at this time, and Obadiah Baker 
had a grist-mill on Smoke's creek, near Potter's Corners. Early 
in the spring of 18 12 Daniel Sumner made the first settlement 
on Chestnut Ridge, locating just south of the farm now occu- 
pied by his step-son, S. V. R. Graves, Esq., then a small boy. 

Here, as elsewhere, the bears and wolves were abundant, and 
one or two anecdotes related by Mr. G. show the extreme af- 
fection of the former for pork. 

On one occasion a bear came close to the house, seized a 
shote weighing a hundred pounds, and made off with it. 
Coming to a seven-rail fence, the apparently clumsy animal 
scrambled over it, bearing the porker in her mouth something 
as a cat does a kitten, and leaving no trace behind save the 
marks of her claws on the top rail. 

Another bear attacked an old sow in a shanty close to the 
residence of Amos Colvin, in the Newton neighborhood. The 
old man ran out and found the two animals under a work-bench, 
and no amount of beating could make the bear let go her hold. 
Having some powder, but no ball nor shot, Colvin broke off a 
piece of the bail of a kettle, loaded his gun with it, and actually 
killed the stubborn invader with this primitive ammunition. 

Another animal, which has disappeared since then, was the 
hedeehoe. This black and " fretful " little animal was then 
common, especially among the chestnuts of that region, and 
many an unsophisticated young dog has returned home sore and 
bleeding from the wounds inflicted by his apparently insignifi- 
cant antagonist. Although the casting of their quills is a fable, 
yet they could really use them with great efficiency as simple 
defensive weapons, and experienced canines usually declined the 
unequal contest. 

By the spring of 181 1 the township now called Aurora had 
increased in population (including among the new comers of that 
year the Staffords, who settled " Staffordshire," Moses Thomp- 


son, Russell Darling, Amos Underhill and others,) so that it 
was thought it might support a store. Accordingly John Ad- 
ams and Daniel Hascall purchased a little stock of goods in 
Buffalo, put up a counter in the log house belonging to one of 
them, near what is now Blakeley's Corners, and indulged in the 
dignity of merchandising for about six months, and then sus- 
pended. They were evidently ahead of their age. 

Dr. John Watson was the first medical practitioner in Aurora. 
His younger brother, Ira G., also located there just before the 
war. They were the only physicians in the whole southeast 
part of the county. 

Though there were no " settled " ministers, yet Elder Samuel 
Gail, then living in Aurora, and. licensed by the Methodist 
Church, frequently preached in houses or barns, or under the 
canopy of heaven, according to circumstances. The occasional 
preaching then begun by the youthful minister was continued 
for nearly sixty years, until " Elder Gail " was one of the best- 
known men in the south part of Erie county. 

Wales began to increase more rapidly than before ; Varnum 
Kenyon, Eli Weed, Jr., Nathan Mann and others being among 
the new comers of 181 1, and in the succeeding winter young 
James Wood taught the first school in town. 

Isaac Hall also came that year, locating at what has since 
been known as " Hall's Hollow," or "Wales Center," where he 
soon built a saw-mill and grist-mill, the first in Wales, and also 
opened a tavern. His son, P. M. Hall, mentions Alvin Burt, 
Benjamin Earl and others, as in town when he came. 

Up to this time inhabitants of the " Cayuga Creek " settle- 
ment had been obliged to patronize the grist-mill at Clarence 
Hollow, or the one at Aurora. Water sometimes failed at the 
former, and the road to the latter was difficult to travel or even 
to discover. 

Mr. Clark, to whom I am indebted for so many reminiscences 
of those times, says that his father and two others once started 
on horseback for Stephens' Mill, with seven bushels of grain in 
all, designing to follow the " Ransom road," since called the 
" Girdled road," which crossed the reservation, striking the Big 
Tree road about a quarter of a mile west of the site of Aurora 
Academy. They were unable to keep the track, however, and 


after many wanderings struck the road from Aurora to Buffalo, 
which they mistakenly followed toward the latter place till they 
reached the Indian village. The " Ransom road " was evidently 
a very blind guide. 

Such troubles came to an end in 1811, when Ahaz Allen 
built a grist-mill at what is now Lancaster village. Its dam 
was the first on Cayuga creek, and after the race was shut, the 
first night, nine hundred and fifty-five fish — suckers, mullet, mus- 
calonge, etc. — were caught in it. 

The supervisor of Clarence for 181 1 was Samuel Hill, Jr., 
and in 18 12 James Cronk, both residing in the present territory 
of Newstead. 

Tonawanda could not boast of a tavern until 181 1, when one 
was opened by Henry Anguish. 

Buffalo gained several important accessions to its business 
and social circles, during the period under consideration. 

Grosvenor & Heacock established themselves as merchants 
on Main street. The senior member of the firm was Abel M. 
Grosvenor, a portly and pleasant middle-aged gentleman, who 
died during the war. The junior partner, Reuben B. Heacock, 
long one of the best-known citizens of Buffalo, was then a tall, 
slender young man of twenty-two, with keen features and 
Roman nose, manifesting his intense energy in every movement 
as he strode through the streets of the nascent emporium. 

Messrs. Stocking & Bull, in 181 1, built the first hat-factory in 
Buffalo, on Onondaga (Washington) street, near the corner of 
Swan. Mr. Stocking devoted himself with especial earnestness 
to the support of public worship and Sunday-schools, seconding 
the efforts of Deacon Callender and Gen. Elijah Holt, the latter 
of whom came about the same time. 

Charles Townsend and George Coit, two young men of Con- 
necticut, also came to Buffalo at this time, and established the 
long-celebrated firm of Townsend & Coit. They were reputed 
wealthy when they came, (something very unusual for Buffalo- 
nians of that era,) and it is asserted that they brought with 
them, via Oswego and Lewiston, twenty tons of goods. 

Heman B. Potter was a young lawyer who began, in 181 1, a 
legal career which continued in Buffalo for nearly half a century. 
A man of medium size, regular features and calm demeanor. 


Mr. Potter wa% less self-assertive than the majority of successful 
pioneers, yet he remained so long in active life that he was, more 
than any other one man, the connecting link between the forest- 
shaded hamlet and the swarming metropolis. 

In 1811 William Hodge built a large brick hotel where is now 
the corner of Main and Utica streets. It was nearly if not quite 
the first of that material in the county, and was soon widely 
known as the " brick tavern on the hill." Mr. H. had also be- 
come the proprietor of the first nursery in the county, and had 
first started the manufacture of fanning-mills. It is a good 
illustration of pioneer energy that, in order to learn how to 
make the screens, Mr. Hodge went on foot to a place near 
Utica, paid a man to teach him the desired secret, and then re- 
turned on foot to Buffalo to put it in use. 

In the forepart of this year the President, being authorized 
by Congress, located the port of entry for the district of BuiTalo 
Creek at Black Rock, from the first of April to the first of De- 
cember in each year, and at "Buff"aloe" the rest of the time. It 
is difficult to see why the office should have been moved twice 
a year merely to make " Buffaloe " a port of entry during the 
four months when there were no entries. 

The year 1811 was also marked by the establishment of Mr. 
Jabez B. Hyde as the first school-teacher among the Senecas. 
He was sent by the New York Missionary Society. A minister 
of the gospel was sent at the same time, but was rejected by the 
chiefs, while the teacher was invited to remain. 

But the most important event in the eye of the historian was 
the establishment of the first newspaper in Erie county, the 
Buffalo Gazette ; the initial number of which was issued on the 
third day of October, 181 1, by Messrs Smith H. and Hezekiah 
A. Salisbury. The former was the editor. 

For the time previous to its appearance the student of local 
history must depend on the memory of a few aged persons, 
eked out by a very small number of scattering records. But, 
fortunately, a tolerably complete file of the Gazette has been 
preserved through all the vicissitudes of sixty-five years, and is 
now in the possession of the Young Men's Association of Buf- 
falo. By carefully studying its columns, especially the adver- 
tisements, one can form a very fair idea of the progress of the 


county. The first number has been stolen from the files ; the 
second, dated October loth, 181 1, remains, the earliest specimen 
of Erie county journalism. 

A rough-looking little sheet was this pioneer newspaper of 
Erie county, printed on coarse, brownish paper, each of the four 
pages being about twelve inches by twenty. Its price was $2.50 
per year if left weekly at doors ; $2.00 if taken at the office or 
sent by mail. 

The price seems large for a sheet of those dimensions, but 
the advertising rates were certainly low enough. A " square " 
was inserted three weeks for $1.00, and twenty-five cents was 
charged for each subsequent insertion. 

There must have been a large mail business done in this 
vicinity, or a very slow delivery ; as the first number of the 
Gazette contained an advertisement of a hundred and fifty- 
seven letters remaining in the post-office at Buffalo Creek. Five 
of them were directed to women, whose names I give as speci- 
mens of the feminine nomenclature of that day: Susan Daven- 
port, Sarah Goosbeck, Susannah McConnel, Nancy Tuck, Lu- 
cinda Olmsted. Not one ending in "ie!" 

With their printing office the Salisburys carried on the first 
Buffalo book-store, and kept a catalogue of their books con- 
stantly displayed in their paper. It may give an idea of the 
literary taste of that era to observe that one of those lists con- 
tains the names of seventeen books on law, fourteen on medicine, 
fifty-four on religious subjects, fifty-four on history, poetry and 
philosophy, and only eleven novels ! 

One of the first numbers chronicles the arrival of the schooner 
Salina, Daniel Robbins master, with a cargo of " Furr " esti- 
mated at a hundred and fifty thousand dollars — an estimate 
which I fear did not hold out. " Furr " was the invariable spell- 
ing of the covering of the beaver and otter, while a wielder of 
the needle was sometimes denominated a " tailor," and some- 
times a " taylor." 

Militia affairs evidently received considerable attention, as the 
only advertisement of blanks was one of " Sergeants' Warrants, 
Captains' Orders to Sergeants, Notices to Warn Men to Parade," 
&c., &c. Captains were numerous, and were not always blessed 
with high scholastic acquirements, as is shown by the following 


communication from one gallant chieftain to another, which 
somehow found its way into the Gazette, minus the names : 

Willink, November the 10, 181 1. 

"Capt . Sir this day Mr. inform mee that he was not 

able to do militerry duty, and wish you not to fleet a fine on him 
ef I had a non his situation i shod not returned him this is from 
yr. frend. > Capt. 

"Willink," gives but a slight idea of the locality, as the whole 
south part of the county was still called by that name. 

Municipal towns were so large that survey townships were 
frequently used for description, Thus Daniel Wood advertised 
a watch left at his house "in the 6th Town, 8th Range ;" that 
is in the present town of Collins. 

Buffalo, which had originally been spelled by every one with 
a final " e," had latterly, in accordance with the growing distaste 
for superfluous letters, been frequently used without it, but the 
older form was still common. Editor Salisbury set himself to 
complete the reformation, always omitting the " e " himself, and 
ridiculing its use by others. He declared that it made a word 
of four .syllables, " Buf-fa-lo-e." Said he : 

" Buf, there's your Buf ; fa, there's your Buffa; lo, there's your 
Buffalo ; e, there's your Buffalo-e." 

In the Gazette of the 29th of December, 181 1, he published 
a report of a supposed lawsuit in the " Court of People's Bench 
of Buffalo-e," in which " Ety Mol O Gist" was plaintiff, and 
" General Opinion " was defendant. The following is an extract 
from the proceedings : 

" This was an action brought before the court for the purloin- 
ing the fifth letter of the alphabet, and clapping it on the end 
of the name Buffalo. . . . The plaintiff now proceeded, 
after some pertinent remarks to the court, in which he pointed 
out the enormity of the offense of General Opinion, to call his 
witnesses. Several dictionaries were brought forth and exam- 
ined, who testified, from Dr. Johnson down to Noah Webster, 
that there was no such character as " e " in the town of Buffalo. 

" General Use, who was subpoenaed by both parties, was qual- 
ified. He said he did not hesitate to state to the court that he 
had been in the constant practice of dating his notes, receipts, 
and memoranda with " Buffaloe," but that since the establish- 
ment of a public paper he should accommodate it to his con- 
science to cut it short and dock off the final ' e.' " * * * 


The editor's efforts accelerated the popular tendency, and the 
" e " was soon generally abandoned, though for many years a 
few conservative gentlemen continued to date their letters at 
" Buffaloe." 

In one- of the first numbers of the Gazette was an advertise- 
ment stating that the new sloop " Friends' Goodwill, of Black 
Rock," would carry passengers to Detroit for twelve dollars 
each, and goods for a dollar and a half a barrel. 

It .should be stated that the only way in which any idea of 
the condition of the village or county can be gained from the 
Gazette is by examining the advertisements ; for it is very plain 
that the local reporter was then an unknown functionary, and 
the voice of the interviewer was never heard in the land. 

Number after number of the Gazette appeared without a sin- 
gle local item. Except during the war, such items were exces- 
sively rare through all the first years of Buffalo journalism, and 
even when events of decided importance forced recognition 
they were dismissed with the briefest possible notice. 

Editorials, also, were extremely rare, though not so much so 
as locals. 

Nor, although the paper was small, could the 'paucity of edi- 
torial and local matter be attributed chiefly to that cause ; for 
considerable space was devoted to distant, and especially to 
foreign, news, and unimportant proclamations of European po- 
tentates were frequently pubhshed entire, while not a word was 
to be seen about anything occurring within two hundred miles 
of Buffalo. 

It is plain that both the reporter who knows everything and 
the editor who has an opinion about everything remained long 
undeveloped on the shores of Lake Erie. 

In one respect, however, the publishers showed a praiseworthy 
desire to furnish their readers, especially of the fairer sex, with 
interesting intelligence ; under the proper head there were always 
several notices of marriage. But as a week frequently passed 
without a wedding in the vicinity, the columns of the exchanges 
were apparently ransacked for hymeneal intelligence. The 
Gazette of December 17, 1811, contains notices of one marriage 
in Ontario county, one in Oneida county, two in Connecticut 
and one in Montreal. 


The selection was usually induced by some peculiarity in name 
or age, but instead of noticing it among the news items or com- 
icalities, the oddity was transferred to the regular hymeneal list 
of Niagara county. Readers in those days might do without 
their daily murder, but marriages they must have. 

On one occasion they were amply supplied without resorting 
to Connecticut or Montreal. The Gazette of Dec. 11, 181 1, 
records the marriage "on Wednesday evening last," in the town 
of Willink, of Mr. Edward Paine to Miss Phebe Turner, of Mr. 
Levi Blake to Miss Polly Sanford, and of Mr. Thomas Holmes 
to Miss Martha Sanford. 

Failures in business seem to have been quite common in pro- 
portion to the amount done ; as one paper contains three, and 
another four notices for insolvent debtors to show cause why 
they should not be declared bankrupts. 

Yet it is plain that business was generally flourishing. There 
were no advertisements for work, but many for workmen. In 
the course of a few weeks in the fall of 1811, Tallmadge & Mul- 
lett advertised for two or three journeymen tailors, John Tower 
for a journeyman shoemaker, Daniel Lewis for a "Taylor's" ap- 
prentice and a journeyman "Tailor," Stocking & Bull for three or 
four journeymen hatters, and Leech & Keep for two or three 
journeymen blacksmiths, at their shop at Cold Spring, "two 
miles from the village of Buffalo." 

Certainly there would have been no bankruptcies had all 
creditors adopted the generous policy of Lyman Parsons, who 
advertised his earthenware at Cold Spring, and added : " He 
requests all those indebted to him, and whose promises have 
become due, to make payment or fresh promises !" No modern 
doctor of finance could have been more liberal. 

The Patent Medicine Man was already an established insti- 
tution, and M. Daley advertised several unfailing panaceas, their 
value being attested by certificates as ample, (and as truthful,) as 
those of the present day. 

Among the merchants everybody dealt in everything. Na- 
thaniel Sill & Co. dispensed " fish and cider " at Black Rock. 
Peter H. Colt, at the same place, dealt in "whisky, gin, buffalo- 
robes and feathers." Townsend & Coit advertised " linseed oil 
and new goods " in Buffalo. 


The original name adopted by the Holland Company had not 
yet been utterly discarded. Notice was given that the "Ecclesi- 
astical Society" would meet "at the .school-house in the village 
of New Amsterdam," and Grosvenor & Heacock advertised 
goods " at their store in the village of New Amsterdam." 

Even in those good old times, officials were sometimes guilty 
of " irregularities," and one of the few local items in the Ga- 
zette, under the head, "A delinquent and a villain," gave notice 
that Joseph Alward, who wore the double honors of constable 
of Willink and carrier of news, had " cleared out for Canada," 
taking two horses, eight or ten watches and other property. A 
news-carrier was an important functionary; he was the sole reli- 
ance of most of the inhabitants for papers and letters — there 
being but one post-office in the county out of Buffalo, and none 
south of the reservation. The next week after the disappear- 
ance of the " delinquent and villain," David Leroy gave notice 
that he had taken Alward's route, but he soon gave it up for lack 
of business. Another notice informed the people that a carrier 
named Paul Drinkwater had judiciously selected one route down 
the river and another up the lake. 

A. S. Clarke, postmaster at Clarence, (his store it will be re- 
membered was in the present town of Nevvstead,) advertised 
.seven letters detained at his office for Clarence, and fifty for 
Willink. These latter had to be sent from fifteen to fifty 
miles by private conveyance. 

There was still no regular preaching of the gospel in the 
county. Some steps were taken to that end, but nothing ac- 
complished before the war. 

In regard to religion and morality, Buffalo seems to have had 
a very bad reputation abroad — even worse then it deserved. 
The Gazette published a letter from a clergyman to " a gentle- 
man in this village," saying : 

" From what I had heard, I supposed that the people in gen- 
eral were so given to dissipation and vice that the preachers of 
Christianity would find few or no ears to hear : but most agree- 
ably disappointed was I to find my audiences not only respecta- 
ble in point of numbers, but solemn, decent, devout and which 
seemed gladly to hear the word." 

Notwithstanding this readiness to hear the word, some things. 


such as lotteries, were tolerated, which would now be looked on 
with general disfavor. A memorial was presented to the legis- 
lature, signed by many of the principal citizens of Niagara 
county, asking for $15,000 to build a road from the Genesee 
river to Buffalo, the State to be reimbursed by a lottery. The 
project was warmly endorsed by the Gazette. At the present 
day we should at least have morality enough to call the scheme 
a gift-enterprise. It does not appear to have been adopted. 

The difficulty of deciding when " doctors disagree," has long 
been a favorite theme of philosophers, but it was more than 
usually great at the time and in the locality under considera- 
tion. The two Chapins, Daniel and Cyrenius, were the leaders 
of two factions, whose warfare was, as usual, made all the more 
intense by the small' number of the contestants. 

In November, 181 1, there appeared a call for a meeting of the 
Medical Society of Niagara County, signed by Asa Coltrin, (part- 
ner of Dr. Cyrenius,) as secretary. The last of December, Dr. 
Daniel Chapin also gave notice of the meeting of the Medical 
Society of Niagara County. In the next number of the Gazette 
Dr. Cyrenius came to the front with a notice that Dr. Daniel's 
call was irregular, and that the Medical Society of Niagara 
County Jiad met in November and adjourned to February first. 

Then Dr. Daniel's society assembled^, and its chief made a 
speech which sounds like a modern statesman's triumphant ex- 
posure of the wickedness of his political opponents. The rival 
association was described as making a contemptible display of 
depravity and weakness, exhibited only to be pitied and de- 
spised, and as being " a mutilated, ill-starred brat, scotched with 
the characterestic marks of its empirical accoucheur!" 

By and by Dr. Cyrenius issued an address, not quite so viru- 
lent, but denouncing the other society as a humbug. He did 
not state the number of physicians in Niagara county at that 
time, but said that three years before (1809) there were sixteen. 
In,i8i2 there were probably about two dozen in the present 
counties of Erie and Niagara, two thirds of them being in the 
territory of the former. But they had a big enough war for 
five hundred. 

Finally the Danielites sued the Cyreniusites for taking a let- 
ter from the post-office directed to "The Medical Society of Ni- 


agara County," and just before the declaration of war the suit 
was decided in favor of the defendants. Then Dr. Josiah Trow- 
bridge, secretary of the victorious faction, issued a bulletin of 
triumph in the Gazette, but the din of scalpels was soon extin- 
guished in the more terrible conflict rapidly hastening to an 

The Free Masons already had an organization in the village, 
and Western Star lodge gave notice that it would install its 
officers on the loth of March, 1812. 

The first of the many societies organized in Erie county by 
artisans was called the Mechanical Society, and was formed by 
the master mechanics of Buffalo on the 26th of March. 

Joseph Bull (hatter) was elected presid^ent, Henry M. Camp- 
bell (also a hatter) and John MuUett (tailor), vice-presidents ; 
with Robert Kaene, Asa Stanard, David Reese (blacksmith), 
Daniel Lewis (tailor), and Samuel Edsall (tanner), as standing 

This Mr. Edsall advertised his tannery and shoe shop as " on 
the Black Rock road, near the village of Buffalo." Considering 
that it stood at the corner of Niagara and Mohawk streets, it 
would undoubtedly now be considered as tolerably near Buffalo. 

On the 20th day of March, 1812, the gigantic town of Wil- 
link was seriously reduced by a law erecting the towns of Ham- 
burg, Eden and Concord. Hamburg contained the present 
towns of Hamburg and East Hamburg. Eden was composed 
of what is now Boston, Eden, Evans, and part of Brant, and 
Concord comprised the whole tract afterwards divided into Sar- 
dinia, Concord, Collins and North Collins — leaving Willink only 
twelve miles square, embracing Aurora, Wales, Holland and 
Colden. Besides, Willink and Hamburg nominally extended 
to the middle of the Buffalo reservation, and Collins covered 
that part of the Cattaraugus reservation situated in Niagara 

The records of both Hamburg and Eden have been preserved 
to this day. In the former town the people first met on the 7th 
of April, 18 12, at the house of Jacob Wright. The following 
officers were elected : 

David Eddy, supervisor ; Samuel Hawkins, town clerk ; Isaac 
Chandler, Richard Smith and Nel. Whitticer, assessors ; Abner 



Wilson, constable and collector ; Nathan Clark and Thomas 
Fish, overseers of the poor; James Browning, John Green and 
Amasa Smith, commissioners of highways ; Daniel Smith, Gil- 
bert Wright and Benjamin Henshaw, constables ; Jotham Bemis 
and Abner Amsdell, pound-masters. 

At the same meeting it was voted that last year's supervisor 
(of Willink) should "discharge our poor debt" by paying the 
poor-masters the sum of five dollars. As a specimen of cheap 
work, performed for the people, I have noted that, for making a 
map of the division of the town. Cotton Fletcher was voted the 
sum of one dollar. 

The meeting adjourned till the next day when, with the new 
supervisor acting as "moderator," the people voted "that hogs 
should remain as the statute law directs." Also that five dollars 
per head should be paid for wolves and panthers. The record 
shows that there were twenty-one road districts at the organ- 
ization of the town. 

It does not appear that Eden was organized until the next 
year. For convenience, however, that organization is given 
here. Joseph Yaw was "moderator" of the meeting. John C. 
Twining was elected supervisor ; John March, town clerk ; Amos 
Smith, David Corbin and John Hill, assessors ; Charles John- 
son, Calvin Doolittle, and Richard Berry, Jr., commissioners of 
highways; Lemuel Parmalee, collector; John Conant and Silas 
Este, constables ; John Welch and Asa Cary, poor-masters. 
There were thirteen road districts. 

It is said that John Hill selected the name of Eden for the 
new town, on account of the paradisaical look which the country 
around Eden Center bore to his eye. For some unknown rea- 
son it was almost universally spelled "Edon" for many years, 
not only in writing, but when printed in the Gazette. 

The records of Concord having been burned, its early organ- 
ization cannot be given. 

During all this time there was a constant and increasing fer- 
ment regarding war and politics. The growing dissatisfaction 
of the government and a majority of the people of the United 
States with the government of Great Britain, on account of her 
disregard of neutral rights in the contest with Napoleon, had at 
length reached the verge of war, and the denunciations of that 


power in Congress, in State legislatures, in the press and in pub- 
lic meetings were constantly becoming more bitter. While this 
was the sentiment of the ruling party (that is the Democratic or 
Republican, for it went by both names,) the Federalists, who 
constituted a large and influential minority, opposed a war with 
England, asked for further negotiation, and met the Democratic 
denunciations of that country with still more bitter attacks on 
Napoleon, whom they accused the Republicans of favoring. 

In February, Congress passed a law to organize an army of 
twenty-five thousand men. Shortly after, Daniel D. Tompkins, 
the republican governor of New York, made a speech to the 
legislature, advising that the State prepare for the coming contest. 
This county up to that time had been decidedly Federal. 
Ebenezer Walden was the Federal member of assembly for 
the counties of Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. In 
April, Abel M. Grosvenor was nominated for the assembly by 
a meeting of the Federalists, or as they termed themselves "Fed- 
eral Republicans." At the same meeting a large committee was 
appointed, and, as it is to be presumed that the men selected 
were somewhat influential members of their party in that day, 
I transcribe a list of those residing in the present county of 
Erie : 

Town of Buffalo — Nathaniel Sill, Joshua Gillett, Benjamin 
Caryl, James Beard, Oilman Folsom, Wm. B. Grant, John Rus- 
sell, Daniel Lewis, Rowland Cotton, David Reese, Elisha Ensign, 
S. H. Salisbury, Ransom Harmon, Frederick House, Guy J. 
Atkins, Samuel Lasucr, John Duer, John Watkins, R. Grosvenor 
Wheeler, Fred. Buck, Henry Anguish, Nehemiah Seeley, Henry 
Doney, Solomon Eldridge and Holden Allen. 

Clarence — Henry Johnson, Asa Fields, James Powers, James 
S. Youngs, William Baker, Archibald Black, John Stranahan, 
Josiah Wheeler, G. Stranahan, Benjamin O. Bivins, John Peck 
and Jonathan Barrett. 

Willink — Abel Fuller, Ebenezer Holmes, John McKeen, San- 
ford G. Colvin, Levi Blake, Ephraim Woodruff", Daniel Haskell, 
Samuel Merriam, Dr. John Watson and John Gaylord, Jr. 

Hamburg — Seth Abbott, Joseph Browning, William Coltrin, 
Ebenezer Goodrich, Cotton Fletcher, John Green, Samuel Ab- 
bott, Benjamin Enos, Pardon Pierce. 


Eden— Charles Johnson, Luther Hibbard, Dorastus Hatch, 
Dr. John March, Job Palmer, Samuel Tubbs. 

Concord — Joseph Hanchett, Solomon Fields, Samuel Cooper, 
Stephen Lapham, Gideon Lapham, Gideon Parsons, William S. 

As a companion to the Federal committee, I insert here the 
names of the members of a similar one composed of Demo- 
cratic Republicans, though not appointed till a year or so later. 
They were Nathaniel Henshaw, Ebenezer Johnson, Pliny A. 
Field, William Best, Louis Le Couteulx and John Sample of 
Buffalo ; Otis R. Hopkins, Samuel Hill, Jr., Daniel Rawson, 
James Baldwin, Daniel McCleary, Oliver Standard and Moses 
Fenno, of Clarence ; David Eddy, Richard Smith, Samuel Haw- 
kins, Giles Sage, William Warriner, Joseph Albert and Zenas 
Smith, of Hamburg ; Elias Osborn, Israel Phelps, Jr., Daniel 
Thurston, Jr., William Warren, James M. Stevens, John Car- 
penter and Joshua Henshaw, of Willink ; Christopher Stone, 
Benjamin Tubbs, Gideon Dudley, Amos Smith and Joseph 
Thorn, of Eden ; and Rufus Eaton, Fi-ederick Richmond, Allen 
King, Benjamin Gardner and Isaac Knox, of Concord. 

Jonas Williams, the founder of Williamsville, was the Repub- 
lican candidate for the assembly. 

About the same time Asa Ransom was again appointed 
sheriff; Joseph Landon, Henry Brothers and Samuel Hill, Jr., 
coroners ; Samuel Tupper and David Eddy, judges and justices; 
and Elias Osborne, then of Willink, justice of the peace. 
Shortly afterwards, Samuel Tupper, of Buffalo, was appointed 
first judge in place of Judge Porter, resigned. 

Already there were fears of Indian assault. It was reported 
that a body of British and Indians were assembled at Newark, 
to make a descent on the people on this side. A public meet- 
ing was held at Cook's tavern, in Buffalo, at which the state- 
ment was declared untrue. 

Early in May a lieutenant of the United States army adver- 
tised for recruits at Buffalo, offering those who enlisted for five 
years a hundred and sixty acres of land, three months' extra 
pay, and a bounty of sixteen dollars. The amount of bounty 
will not appear extravagant to modern readers. 

Election was held on the I2th of May, and the approach of 


war had evidently caused a great change in the strength of the 
two parties. The votes for member of assembly show at once 
the ascendency suddenly gained by the Democrats, and the 
comparative population of the several towns. For Grosvenor, 
Federal, Willink gave 71 votes, Hamburg 47, Eden 41, Concord 
33, Clarence 72, Buffalo 123 ; total, 387. For Williams, Repub- 
lican, Willink gave 114, Hamburg no, Eden 46, Concord 50, 
Clarence 177, Buffalo 112 ; total, 609. Archibald S. Clarke was 
elected State senator, being the first citizen of Erie county to 
hold that office, as he had been the first assemblyman and first 
surrogate. The congressmen chosen for this district were both 
outside of Niagara county. 

The militia were being prepared for war, at least to the ex- 
tent of being amply provided with officers. In Lt.-Col. Chap- 
man's regiment. Dr. Ebenezer Johnson was appointed " sur- 
geon's mate," (assistant surgeon he would now be called ;) Abiel 
Gardner and Ezekiel Sheldon, lieutenants ; Oziel Smith, pay- 
master; John Hersey and Samuel Edsall, ensigns. 

In Lt.-Col. Warren's regiment, Adoniram Eldridge, Charles 
Johnson, John Coon, Daniel Ha.skill, Benjamin Gardner and 
John Russell were appointed captains ; Innis B. Palmer, Isaac 
Phelps, Timothy Fuller, Benjamin I. Clough, Gideon Person, 
Jr., Frederick Richmond and Varnum Kenyon, lieutenants ; 
William Warriner, surgeon; Stephen Kinney, paymaster; Elihu 
Rice, Samuel Cochrane, Benjamin Douglass, Lyman Blackmar 
and Oliver Blezeo, ensigns. 

Scarcely a day passed that rumors of Indian outrages did not 
startle the inhabitants of Niagara county, who looked with anx- 
ious eyes on the half-tamed Iroquois in their midst, many of 
-whom had once bathed their hands in American blood. The 
rumors were all false, but the terror they inspired was none the 
less real. 

Congress passed an act calling out a hundred thousand mili- 
tia, (thirteen thousand five hundred of whom were from New 
York,) and the news was followed quickly by an order detailing 
two hundred and forty men from Hopkins' brigade, for imme- 
diate service. On the 17th of May, Col. Swift, of Ontario 
county, arrived at Buffalo to assume command on the frontier. 
On the 1 8th, the first detachment of militia marched through 


that village on their way to Lewiston. They were from the 
south towns, and were commanded by Major Benj. Whaley. 

On the 26th, Superintendent Granger, with the interpreters 
Jones and Parrish, held a council with the chiefs of the Six Na- 
tions in the United States. Mr. Granger did not seek to enlist 
their services, such not being the policy of the government, but 
urged them to remain neutral. To this they agreed, but said 
they would send a delegation to consult their brethren in 

Meanwhile, the declaration of war was under earnest discus- 
sion in Congress. 

On the 23d of June, Col. Swift, whose headquarters were at 
Black Rock, was in command of six hundred militia, besides 
which there was a small garrison of regulars at Fort Niagara. 
There was no artillery, except at the fort. 

The preparations for war on the other side were somewhat 
better, there being six or seven hundred British regulars along 
the Niagara, and a hundred pieces of artillery. The excitement 
grew more intense every hour. Reckless men on either shore 
fired across the river " for fun," their shots were returned, and 
the seething materials almost sprang into flame by spontane- 
ous combustion. 

The morning of the 26th of June came. A small vessel, 
loaded with salt, which had just left Black Rock, was noticed 
entering Lake Erie by some of the citizens of Buffalo, and 
presently a British armed vessel from Ft. Erie was seen making 
its way toward the American ship. The latter was soon over- 
taken and boarded, and then both vessels turned their prows 
toward the British stronghold. 

There could be but one explanation of this — the vessel was 
captured — and the news of war spread with lightning-like rapid- 
ity among the inhabitants of the little frontier village. All 
doubt was dispelled a few hours later by an express-rider from 
the East, bearing the President's proclamation of war. The Can- 
adians had received the earliest news by reason of John Jacob 
Astor's sending a fast express to Queenston, twelve hours ahead 
of the government riders, to warn his agents there. 

The War of 18 12 had begun. 



Confusion.— Flight.— The School-mistress and the Officer.— "Silver Greys."— The 
"Queen Charlotte."— Salisbury's Battle.—" The Charlotte Taken."— Fear of 
Indians. — Red Jacket's Logic. — Iroquois Declaration of War. —Capture of 
Two British Vessels.— The First Victim of War.— Black Rock Bombarded. 
— A Late Breakfast. — The Queenston Failure. — Smyth's Proclamation. — A 
Gallant Vanguard. — A Vacillating General. — Invasion Relinquished. — An 
Erie County Duel.— A Riot among the Soldiers.— Political Matters.— 

The news of the declaration of war was disseminated with 
almost telegraphic rapidity, flying off from the main roads pur- 
sued by the express-riders, and speeding from one scattered 
settlement to another throughout Western New York. 

Dire was the confusion created. In almost every locality 
divers counsels prevailed. Some were organizing as militia or 
volunteers ; others, alarmed by the reports of instant invasion 
and by the ever horrible tale of Indian massacre, made a hasty 
retreat with their families toward the Genesee. Sometimes the 
fleeing citizens were met by emigrants who were pressing for- O 
ward to make new homes in the wilderness, unchecked by the 
dangers of the day. 

So great was the dismay that Mr. Ellicott issued an address 
to the settlers on the Holland Purchase, assuring them that the 
lines were well guarded and the country safe from invasion. 
The alarm is said to have been equally great on the other side, 
and the flight from the lines perhaps greater, as there were more 
people there to flee. 

By the fourth of July three thousand American militia were 
assembled on the Niagara frontier. General William Wadsvvorth 
being in command. This looked like efficient action, and ere 
long the men who remained at home were working as steadily 
as usual, many families who had fled returned, and affairs re- 
sumed their ordinary course, save where along the Niagara, the 


raw recruits marched, and countermarched, and panted for the 
chance to distinguish themselves which came to them all too 

At first, men of all classes and conditions were generally will- 
ing to turn out. Occasionally, however, one was found, even 
wearing the epaulet of an officer, who trembled at the bare 
idea of exchanging his cozy log house for the unknown terrors 
of the tented field. It is related of a wide-awake Springville 
school-mistress that she determined to have a little amusement 
at the expense of a boastful militia officer, who, not having 
been detailed for service, was loud in professing his anxiety for 
the joys of battle. 

Borrowing a suit of uniform from a relative, she attired her- 
self in it, partly concealed her face, went to the house of her 
victim, and announced herself as an aide-de-camp sent by the 
commanding general to call him instantly to the field. The 
sudden summons, coming when he had thought himself secure, 
utterly overcame his nerves, and he pleaded piteously for exemp- 
tion from the dread decree. But in vain ; he was ordered to 
prepare himself immediately, and it was only after he had al- 
most gone on his knees to the stern official that the latter dis- 
closed himself, or herself, and left the frightened official to muse 
on the deceitfulness of appearances. 

Besides the ordinary militia, several companies were organ- 
ized, composed of men too old to be called on for military duty. 
They were commonly called "Silver Greys." One such com- 
pany was formed in Willink, of which Phineas Stephens was 
captain, Ephraim Woodruff lieutenant and Oliver Pattengill 
ensign. Another was organized in Hamburg under Captain 
Jotham Bemis. 

Immediately on learning of the declaration of war. General 
Isaac Brock, commander-in-chief of the British forces in Upper 
Canada, and acting governor, took personal command on the 
Niagara frontier, and gave his attention to its defenses. Fort 
Erie was strengthened and a redoubt several rods long was 
erected opposite the residence of Congressman Porter, now the 
foot of Breckenridge street. Earthworks were also thrown up 
at Chippewa, Oueenston and other points. The American side 
was similarly strengthened. 


There was constant watchfulness for spies on both sides of 
the h'ne, and many arrests were made. 

The superiority of the British on the lake was a source of 
constant annoyance to the people on this side. At the begin- 
ning of the war there was not a single armed American vessel 
afloat, while the British had three— the Queen Charlotte, of 
twenty-two guns, the Hunter, of twelve guns, and a small 
schooner lately built. 

The Queen Charlotte, in particular, kept the people of Ham- 
burg and Evans in constant alarm. Riding off the shore, her 
boats would be sent to land to seize on whatever could be found, 
especially in the way of eatables and live stock. 

At one time a party landed on the coast of Evans, near the 
farm of Aaron Salisbury, and began their work of plunder. 
Most of the men of the settlement were absent. Young Salis- 
bury seized his musket, overtook the marauders as they were 
going to their boats and opened fire on them from the woods. 
They returned it, but without effect on either side. They then 
embarked on their vessel, which sailed northward. Knowing- 
that the mouth of the Eighteen-Mile was a convenient landing 
place, Salisbury hurried thither through the woods. When he 
arrived they had just landed. He again opened a rapid fire from 
the friendly forest, and the foe thinking the whole country was 
rising against them, soon retreated to their boats and vessel, 
without doing any further harm. ' 

Mrs. Root, of Evans Center, then the eight-year old daughter 
of Anderson Taylor, informs me that these incursions from the 
Charlotte were quite frequent that first summer, and that the 
men of the scattered settlements were often taken on board as 
prisoners, kept a few days and then liberated. When the men 
were absent in the militia, some of the women did not take 
off their clothes for weeks together ; keeping themselves always 
ready for instant flight. 

It must have been, then, with feelings of decided gratification 
that Erie county people read the head-line in large capitals, of 
a notice in the Gazette, entitled, "The Charlotte Taken." But 
the ensuing lines, though pleasant enough, only announced the 
marriage in Hamburg, by "Hon. D. Eddy, Esq.," of Mr. Ja- 
red Canfield, "a sergeant in Captain McClure's volunteer com- 


pany," to Miss Charlotte King, daughter of Mr. N. King, of 

As has been said, the most intense anxiety was felt by the 
Americans regarding the Indians on both sides of the line. 
The British, in accordance with their ancient policy, made imme- 
diate arrangements on the outbreak of war to enlist the Mo- 
hawks, and other Canadian Indians, in their service. These 
sent emissaries to the Six Nations in New York, to persuade 
them to engage on the same side. The settlers on the Holland 
Purchase, and especially in the county of Niagara, were not 
only alarmed at the prospect of invasion by savage enemies, 
but also lest the Senecas and others on this side should allow 
their ancient animosities to be rekindled, and break out into 
open rebellion. It must be confessed the danger was not slight, 
for there was good ground for believing that some at least of the 
Seneca warriors had been engaged against the United States at 
the battle of Tippecanoe, only the year before. 

Mr. Granger was active in averting the danger, and on the 6th 
of July he convened a council of the Six Nations in the United 
States, on the Buffalo reservation. It was opened, as a matter 
of course, by Red Jacket, and Mr. G. in a long speech set 
forth the cause of the war from the American point of view, 
urging the Indians to have nothing to do with the quarrels of 
the whites, but to remain quietly at home during the war. 

He said, however, that he was aware that many of their 
young braves were anxious to engage in the fight, and if they 
must do so, he preferred it should be on the side of the United 
States. If, therefore, they were determined to see something of 
the war, perhaps a hundred and fifty or two hundred of their 
warriors would be accepted by the government. 

At the next meeting of the council Red Jacket replied, de- 
claring in favor of neutrality, saying that he hoped no warriors 
would be accepted by the government without permission of the 
great council, and asking leave to make another effort to per- 
suade the Mohawks to abandon the war-path. This was granted, 
and a deputation of five chiefs, with considerable difficulty, ob- 
tained permission from General Brock to visit their Mohawk 
brethren. The effort, however, was useless, as the Canadian In- 
dians were fully determined not to bury the hatchet. 

RED jacket's logic. 211 

The neutrality of the Senecas, Cayugas, etc., continued for 
only a brief time. In fact, the excitement of war was so infec- 
tious, not only to the "young braves," but to many of those who 
considered themselves the cautious guardians of their people, 
that they were quite willing to seize the first excuse for number- 
ing themselves among the combatants. 

In this same month of July a rumor got afloat that the 
British had taken possession of Grand Island, which was under 
the jurisdiction of the United States, but the title of which was 
in the Senecas. It has generally been supposed that this rumor 
was entirely without foundation, but Mr. John Simpson, of Ton- 
awanda, informs me differently. He states that several hun- 
dred Indians appeared on the shores of Grand Island, opposite 
Tonawanda. There were then sixteen soldiers in the guard- 
house there. They had been notified of the approach of 
the Indians, and all the citizens around had been called 
in. These were furnished with the extra uniforms of the 
soldiers, to increase the apparent number. They were also, 
after being paraded, marched into view with all their coats 
turned wrong side out, giving at that distance the appearance of 
a new corps with different uniforms. The enemy made no 
attempt to cross. Red Jacket convoked a council, and asked 
permission of Superintendent Granger to drive away the in- 
truders, using the following shrewd logic in support of his re- 
quest. Said he : 

" Our property is taken possession of by the British and their 
Indian friends. It is necessary now for us to take up the busi- 
ness, defend our property and drive the enemy from it. If we 
sit still upon our seats and take no means of redress, the British, 
according to the custom of you white people, will hold it by 
conquest. And should you conquer the Canadas you will hold 
it on the same principles ; because you will have taken it from 
the British." 

Permission being granted, another council was held shortly 
after, at which a formal declaration of war was adopted, and re- 
duced to writing by the interpreter. As this was probably the 
first — perhaps the only — declaration of war ever published by 
an Indian nation or confederacy in writing, and as its language 
was commendably brief, it is transcribed entire, as follows : 

" We, the chiefs and counselors of the Six Nations of Indians, 


residing in the State of New York, do hereby proclaim to all 
the war-chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations that war is de- 
clared on our part against the provinces of Upper and Lower 
Canada. Therefore, we command and advise all the war-chiefs 
and warriors of the Six Nations to call forth immediately the 
warriors under them, and put them in motion to protect their 
rights and liberties." 

Notwithstanding this declaration, however, no Indians, (at 
least no considerable number of them,) took the field on our 
side that year. It was soon ascertained that the occupation of 
Grand Island was not permanent, and there were many of the 
older chiefs, with Red Jacket at their head, who were really de- 
sirous that their people should remain neutral. But more potent, 
probably, than the restraining voice of their sachems, were the 
quick-coming disasters to the American arms. 

The militia kept marching to the frontier. There was no lack 
of numbers, nor of apparent enthusiasm. They were all anx- 
ious to capture Canada the next day after their arrival. But 
they were utterly ignorant of actual war, and the first touch of 
reality chilled them to the marrow. 

They were not called out en masse, nor were specified regi- 
ments ordered to the field. Details were made of the number 
required from each brigade, and these were collected by details 
from the different regiments and companies. Temporary com- 
panies and regiments were thus formed, to endure only through 
the few weeks of active service. Of course officers and men 
were unused to each other, the organization was unfamiliar to 
both, and the efficiency of the command was in the very lowest 

Lt.-Col. Chapman, commander of the Buffalo and Clarence 
regiment, moved away about the beginning of the war, and no 
one was appointed in his place until after its close. Major 
Samuel Hill, Jr., was the senior officer. Most of the Buffalo- 
nians seem to have formed themselves into independent com- 
panies, and Hill's command was left so small that whenever 
the militia was called out en masse it was joined with Warren's 

Gen. Amos Hall, of Ontario county, major general of this 
division of the State militia,- was in command on the frontier, 
for a short time, succeeding Gen. Wadsworth. On the nth of 


July he was superseded by Major General Stephen Van Rens- 
selaer, also of the militia, but a man of some experience in act- 
ual war. He established his headquarters and assembled his 
principal force at Lewiston. 

During the lull which succeeded the first excitement, one of 
the founders of Buffalo, Captain Samuel Pratt, passed away 
from life, in August, 1812. On the 27th of that month an extra 
Gazette announced the surrender by Gen. Hull of Detroit and his 
whole army, to an inferior force of British and Indians. Terrible 
was the disappointment of the people, as well it might be, over 
that disgraceful affair, and dire were the fulminations of the press. 
But denunciation was all too late, and public attention in this 
vicinity was soon turned toward events nearer home. 

The fires of faction burned as fiercely then as in any later days. 
There was bitter opposition to the war among the Federals of 
many States, opposition which hardly confined itself to legiti- 
mate discussion — while on the Democratic side mob violence, 
reaching even to murder, was sometimes resorted to to silence 
the malcontents. 

In September a convention was held at Albany, which de- 
nounced the war, and shortly afterwards a meeting of the friends 
of " Peace, Liberty and Commerce " was called at " Pomeroy's 
long hall," in Buffalo, for the same purpose. Dr. Cyrenius 
Chapin, however, though an ardent Federalist, had entered with 
great zeal into all measures looking toward vigorous work on 
this frontier, and was by general consent given the lead so far 
as the citizens of Buffalo were concerned. 

On the 8th of October, a detachment of sailors arrived on the 
frontier from New York, and were placed under the command 
of Lieut. Jesse D. Elliott, stationed at Black Rock. Their 
march had been hastened by a dispatch from Lieut. E., who had 
conceived a bold plan for cutting out two British armed vessels 
which had just come down the lake, and were lying at anchor 
near Fort Erie. One was the brig Detroit, of six guns, lately 
captured from the United States, and generally called by its 
former name, the Adams ; the other was the schooner Cale- 
donia, of two guns. 

This was the first hostile enterprise which took place in, or 
started from, Erie county, during the war of 1812. 


The seamen on their arrival were found almost without wea- 
pons, but Generals Smyth and Hall, of the regulars and militia, 
furnished some arms, and the former detailed fifty men under 
Captain Towson, to accompany the expedition. Dr. Chapin and 
a few other Buffalo volunteers also entered into the scheme. 

About one o'clock on the morning of the gth of October, 
three boats put out from the American shore, with their prows 
directed toward Fort Erie. The first contained fifty men under 
Lieut. Elliott in person, the second forty-seven under Sailing- 
Master Watts, while the third was manned by six Buffalonians 
under Dr. Chapin. 

The boats moved stealthily across the river, and the darkness 
of the night favored the project. Arriving at the side of their 
prey, the three crews boarded both vessels almost at the same 
time. The men on board the latter made a vigorous resistance, 
and a sharp but brief conflict ensued, in which two of the assail- 
ants were killed and five wounded. In ten minutes, however, 
the enemy was overpowered, the cables cut, and the vessels on 
their way down the river. The Caledonia was brought to an- 
chor near Black Rock, but the Adams was carried by the cur- 
rent on the west side of Squaw Island, and ran aground. 

The prisoners taken by the Americans in this gallant achieve- 
ment numbered seventy-one officers and men, part of whom, 
however, were Canadian voyageurs. Besides these the captors 
released about forty American prisoners, captured at the River 
Raisin and on their way to Quebec. 

As the two vessels passed Black Rock a heavy cannonade was 
opened from the Canadian shore, and returned from the ships. 
After the Adams ran aground the fire was so heavy that the 
vessel was abandoned, the men safely reaching the shore. 
Shortly afterwards the enemy took possession of it, but were in 
turn soon driven away by the firing from island and mainland. 
Believing it would be impracticable to keep possession of it, 
the Americans set it on fire and burned it to the water's edge. 

The first shot from the British batteries instantly killed 
Major William Howe Cuyler, of Palmyra, principal aide-de- 
camp of General Hall, as he was galloping with orders along 
the river road, between four and five o'clock in the morning. His 
death was the first one caused by the war within the present 


county of Erie, and, as he was a highly connected and highly 
esteemed young officer, his sudden taking off caused a profound 
sensation. It was felt that war had really come. 

Some three hundred shots were fired from the British batteries, 
several of which passed through buildings at Black Rock. In 
fact Black Rock must have been a very unpleasant place of 
residence throughout the war. Inmates of its houses were often 
startled by a cannon ball crashing through the roof, and not in- 
frequently a breakfast or dinner was suddenly interrupted by 
one of these unwelcome messengers. 

Mrs. Benjamin Bidwell relates, in some reminiscences furnished 
to the Historical Society, that she and her husband, driven by 
the cannonade from their own residence that morning, were 
going to her sister's where there was a cellar in which they pro- 
posed to take refuge, when a cannon ball passed near them, 
knocking down by its wind a little girl she was leading. They 
then fled to the woods, where they found several other families. 
Having obtained some provisions Mrs. B. was cooking breakfast 
late in the forenoon, by an improvised fire in the forest, when 
another cannon ball struck the fire and scattered the breakfast 
in every direction. Again they fled, and being determined this 
time to get out of range, they made their toilsome way through 
the woods to Cold Spring. There Mrs. Bidwell cooked a break- 
fast which was eaten by the family at four o'clock in the afternoon. 

If the people of this vicinity were slightly cheered by the 
achievement of Lt. Elliott and his command, they were at once 
cast down again by the news of the defeat of Gen. Van Rens- 
selaer at Queenston, where a few hundred gallant men, who had 
crossed the Niagara, were left to be slaughtered and captured 
through the cowardice of an ample force which stood on the 
American shore unheeding all appeals to aid their comrades. 

The news reached Buffalo on the 13th of October, accom- 
panied with notice of a week's armistice. The Americans were 
engaged in getting the guns out of the hulk of the Adams. 
The commander at Ft. Erie required them to desist on account 
of the armistice, but the Americans insisted that, as the Adams 
had already been brought on their side of the line, they had a 
right to move her guns wherever they pleased, so long as they 
made no attack on the British. The latter opened fire on the 


troops aboard the hulk, but did no damage, and at night the 
ever-enterprising Chapin went on board with a party and 
brought away a 12-pounder, as did also Lt. Watts afterwards. 

Col. Solomon Van Rensselaer, (nephew of the general,) who 
had gallantly led the column which stormed the heights of 
Queenston, and had been severely wounded on that occasion, 
was brought to Landon's hotel at Buffalo, where he lay, slowly 
recovering, for four weeks. When he was sufficiently recovered 
he left for Albany, a salute being fired in his honor by several 
volunteer companies and by "Chapin's Independent Buffalo 
Matross," which I presume to have been some kind of an artil- 
lery company organized by the indefatigable doctor, whose zeal 
and activity were unquestionable whatever might sometimes be 
thought of his judgment. 

Gen. Van Rensselaer being relieved from duty, Brigadier- 
General Alexander Smyth, of the regular army, who had been 
on the lines a short time as inspector-general, was assigned to 
the command of the Niagara frontier immediately after the con- 
clusion of the armistice. Gen. Smyth was a Virginian, who in 
1808 had abandoned his profession and resigned a seat in the 
legislature of his State to accept a colonelcy in the army, and 
who had lately been promoted to a brigadiership. Immediately 
on taking command he began concentrating ti'oops at Buffalo 
and Black Rock, preparatory to an invasion of Canada. Thus 
far he certainly showed better judgment than his predecessors, 
as it was a. much more feasible project to land an army on the 
gentle slopes below Port Erie than to scale the precipitous 
heights of Queenston. 

He also had scows constructed to transport the artillery, and 
collected boats for the infantry. Eight or nine hundred regulars 
were got together under Col. Moses Porter, Col. Winder, Lieut.- 
Col. Boerstler and other officers. 

On the 1 2th of November Gen. Smyth issued a flaming 
address from his "Camp near Buffalo" to the men of New York, 
calling for their services, and declaring that in a few days the 
troops under his command would plant the American standard 
in Canada. Said he : " They will conquer or they will die." 

On the 17th he sent forth a still more bombastic proclama- 
tion, closing with the pompous call, "Come on, rniy heroes!" 


A considerable force came to Buffalo. A brigade of militia,, 
nearly two thousand strong, arrived from Pennsylvania. Three 
or four hundred New York volunteers reported themselves, in- 
cluding the two companies of "Silver Greys" before mentioned. 
Peter B. Porter, who then, or shortly after, was appointed quar- 
termaster-general of the State militia, was assigned to the com- 
mand of these New York volunteers, and was ever after known 
as General Porter. Under him was Col. Swift, of Ontario 
county. Smyth deemed that the time had come to "conquer 
or die." 

On the 27th of November the general commanding issued 
orders to cross the river the next day. There were then over 
four thousand men at and near Black Rock, but as a lar^e por- 
tion of them were militia, it is not exactly certain how many he 
could have counted on for a movement into the enemy's coun- 
try. He, however, admitted that there were seventeen hundred, 
including the regulars and the twelve-months' volunteers, who 
were ready, and Gen. Porter claimed, that nearly the whole force 
was available. There were boats sufficient to carry at least 
three thousand men. 

A little after midnight the next morning detachments were 
sent across the river, one under Lt-Col. Boerstler, and the other 
under Capt. King, with whom was Lt. Angus of the navy and 
fifty or sixty seamen. The first named force was intended to 
capture a guard and destroy a bridge about five miles below 
Fort Erie, while King and Angus were to take and spike the 
enemy's cannon opposite Black Rock. Boerstler returned with- 
out accomplishing anything of consequence, but the force under 
King and Angus behaved with great gallantry, and materially 
smoothed the way for those who should have followed. 

They landed at three in the morning. Angus, with his 
sailors and a few soldiers, attacked and dispersed a force of the 
enemy stationed at what was called " the red house," spiking 
two field-pieces and throwing them into the river. Nine out of 
the twelve naval officers engaged, and twenty-two of the men, 
were killed or wounded in this brilliant little feat. The sailors 
and some of the soldiers then returned, bringing a number of 
prisoners, but through some blunder no boats were left to bring 
over Capt. King,, who with sixty men remained behind. 


King and his men then attacked and captured two batteries, 
spiked their guns, and took thirty-four prisoners. Having found 
two boats, capable of holding about sixty men, the gallant cap- 
tain sent over his prisoners, half his men, and all his officers, 
remaining behind himself with thirty men. He doubtless ex- 
pected Smyth's whole army in an hour or two, and thought he 
could take care of himself until that time. 

Soon after the return of these detachments, Col. Winder, mis- 
takenly supposing that Boerstler was cut off, crossed the river 
with two hundred and fifty men to rescue him. He reached 
the opposite shore a considerable distance down the river, where 
he was attacked at the water's edge by a body of infantry and a 
piece of artillery, and compelled to return with the loss of six 
men killed and nineteen wounded. Boerstler's command re- 
turned without loss. 

The general embarkation then commenced, but went on very 
slowly. About one o'clock in the afternoon the regulars, the 
twelve-month's volunteers and a body of militia, the whole mak- 
ing a force variously estimated at from fourteen hundred to two 
thousand men, were in boats at the navy yard, at the mouth of 
Scajaquada creek. 

" Then," says Smyth in his account of the affair, with ludi- 
crous solemnity, " the troops moved up the stream to Black 
Rock without loss." This tremendous feat having been accom- 
plished, the general, (still following his own account,) ordered 
them to disembark and dine ! And then he called a council of 
war to see whether he had better cross the river ! It is not sur- 
prising that, with such a commander, several of the officers con- 
sulted were opposed to making the attempt. It was at length 
decided to postpone the invasion a day or two, until more boats 
could be made ready. Late in the afternoon the troops were 
ordered to their quarters. Of course they were disgusted with 
such a ridiculous failure, and demoralization spread rapidly on 
all sides. Gen. Smyth at the time did not pretend that the most 
vigilant observation could discover more than five hundred men 
on the opposite shore. They were drawn up in line about half 
a mile from the water's edge. 

Meanwhile the gallant Capt. King was left to his fate, and 
was taken prisoner with all his men. 


The next day was spent in preparation. On Sunday, the 
30th, the troops were ordered to be ready to embark at nine 
o'clock the following morning. 

By this time the enemy had remounted his guns, so that it 
would have been very difficult to cross above Squaw Island. On 
the shore below it were stationed his infantry and some artillery, 
every man having been obtained that possibly could be from the 
surrounding country. The current there was rapid and the 
banks abrupt. 

General Porter objected to attempting a landing there, and 
made another proposition. He advocated postponing the expe- 
dition till Monday night, when the troops should embark in the 
darkness, and should put off an hour and a half before daylight. 
They could then pass the enemy in the dark, and land about 
five miles below the navy yard, where the stream and the banks 
were favorable. These views were seconded by Colonel Winder 
and adopted by General Smyth, his intention being to assault 
Chippewa, and if successful march through Queenston to Fort 

Then it was found that the quarter-master had not rations 
enough for two thousand five hundred men for four days ! 

Nevertheless the embarkation commenced at three o'clock, 
on the morning of Tuesday, the first of December. Again 
some fifteen hundred men were placed in boats. It was arranged 
that General Porter was to lead the van and direct the landing, 
on account of his knowledge of the river and the farther shore. 
He was attended in the leading boat by Majors Chapin and 
McComb, Captain Mills, Adjutant Chase, Quarter-master Chap- 
lin, and some twenty-five volunteers from Buff"alo, under Lieut. 

But the embarkation of the regulars was greatly delayed, and 
daylight appeared before the flotilla was under way. Then the 
redoubtable Smyth called another council of war, composed of 
four regular officers, to decide whether Canada should be invaded 
that season ! They unanimously decided it should not. So the 
troops were again ordered ashore, the militia and most of the 
volunteers sent home, and the regulars put into winter quarters. 

The breaking up of the command was attended by scenes of 
the wildest confusion — four thousand men firing off their guns. 


cursing General Smyth, their officers, the service and everything 
connected with their military experience. 

The disgust of the public was equally great. Smyth became 
the object of universal derision. His bombastic addresses were 
republished in doggerel rhyme, and the press teemed with de- 
nunciation and ridicule of the pompous Virginian. 

Men unacquainted with military matters frequently cast 
blame on unsuccessful generals, which the facts if fully known 
would not justify ; but in this case General Smyth's own state- 
ment, published a few days after his failure, proves beyond 
doubt that he was either demoralized by sheer cowardice, or else 
that his mind was vacillating to a degree which utterly unfitted 
him for military command. The mere fact of his twice waiting 
till his men were in boats for the purpose of invading Canada, 
before calling a council of war to decide whether Canada should 
be invaded, showed him to be entirely deficient in the qualifi- 
cations of a general. 

There can be little doubt that if the forces had promptly 
crossed, and been • resolutely led, on the morning of the 28th of 
November, they would have efi"ecteti a landing, and for the time 
at least could have held the opposite shore. The enterprise of 
Captain King and Lieut. Angus had been well planned and gal- 
lantly executed, giving substantially a clear field to the Ameri- 
can army. Whether if they had crossed they could have 
effected any lasting results at. that season, is a matter of more 

Gen. Porter published a card in the Buffalo Gazette of De- 
cember 8th, in which he plumply charged Gen. Smyth with 
cowardice, declaring that the regular officers decided against 
crossing because of the demoralized condition of their com- 
mander. According to the opinions then in vogue it was im- 
possible under such circumstances for Smyth to avoid sending a 
challenge, and he did so immediately. Gen. Porter accepted, 
and selected Lt. Angus as his second, while Col. Winder acted 
on behalf of Gen. Smyth. 

It seems curious to think of a duel having been fought within 
the borders of law-abiding Erie, but such was nevertheless the 
fact. On the afternoon of the 14th the two generals, with their 
friends and surgeons, met at "Dayton's tavern," below Black 


Rock, and crossed to the head of Grand Island, in accordance 
with previous arrangements. Arriving at the ground selected, 
one shot was fired by each of the principals, according to the 
official statement of the seconds, "in as intrepid and firm a 
manner as possible," but without effect. Col. Winder then rep- 
resented that Gen. Porter must now be satisfied that the charge 
of cowardice was unfounded, and after divers explanations that 
charge was retracted. Then Gen. Smyth withdrew sundry un- 
complimentary expressions which he had used regarding Porter, 
and then "the hand of reconciliation was extended and re- 
ceived," and all the gentlemen returned to Buffalo. It does not 
appear that there was any great desire for blood on either side. 

Soon afterwards Gen. Porter published a statement of the 
facts concerning the embarkation which came within his know- 
ledge, but without indulging in any animadversions. 

Doctor (or Major) Chapin was more furious than Porter, and 
also came out in a statement, bitterly denunciatory of Smyth. 
In January, after Smyth had left the frontier, he published still 
another statement, but he could not alter the ugly facts of the 
case. The account heretofore given is deduced from a careful 
comparison of the various publications just mentioned, and of 
the official reports of subordinate officers. 

As near as I can ascertain it was just after the wretched 
failure of Smyth that a serious outbreak occurred in Buffalo, 
threatening at one time to involve citizens and soldiers in a 
wide-spread scene of bloodshed. 

All through the war there was more or less ill-feeling between 
the citizens and the soldiers, especially the volunteers and mili- 
tia from other localities. The troops claimed that they were ill- 
treated by those whom they came especially to defend ; the citi- 
zens declared that the armed men made unreasonable and 
extortionate demands. The feeling was probably intensified by 
the fact that many of the leading citizens of Buffalo were Fed- 
erals, whom it was easy to represent as disloyal. 

Among the troops gathered by Smyth were six companies 
called " Federal Volunteers," under Lieut.-Col. F. McClure, in- 
cluding two or three companies of " Irish Greens" from Albany 
and New York, and one of " Baltimore Blues " from that city. 

Ralph M. Pomeroy, who kept the hotel at the corner of Main 


and Seneca streets, was an athletic, resolute man, and rather 
rough-spoken. There had been difficulties between him and 
some of the soldiers before. At the time in question a dispute 
occurred between Pomeroy and the captain of an Albany com- 
pany, which is said to have originated in a demand made by the 
officer or his men for food and liquor. The captain drew his 
sword and drove the hotel-keeper down stairs. Pomeroy swore 
he wished the British would kill the whole infernal crowd of 

The few soldiers present left for camp, and in a short time an 
armed mob of " Baltimore Blues " and " Irish Greens " came 
down Main street. The guests, including several army officers, 
were at dinner, when the assailants commenced operations by 
throwing an axe through a window, directly upon the table. 
The diners sprang up, the mob rushed in, drove them out, and 
began the destruction of everything that could be laid hold of. 
Provisions were devoured, liquors drank, windows smashed, and 
chairs and tables broken in pieces. 

Among the guests was Colonel McClure, the battalion com- 
mander of these very men, but he was powerless to control 
them. He went to the stable, mounted his horse and rode 
through the house, ordering them to disperse, but produced no 
effect. Then he ordered out the companies from Carlisle and 
Gettysburg under his command, and marched them down in 
front of the hotel, but these, though taking no part in the riot 
themselves, would do nothing to quell it. 

Pomeroy concealed himself in his barn. His wife's sister-in- 
law, who was confined to her bed, was obliged to be carried upon 
it to a neighbor's house. 

The rioters grew more and more furious. Beds were piled up 
in the second story, and set fire to, and a conflagration was only 
averted by the courage of " Hank Johnson," a white compan- 
ion of the Cattaraugus Indians, who ascended a ladder on the 
outside, and, although it was snatched from under him by the 
rioters, managed to clamber through the window and throw the 
burning articles into the street. 

Seeing Mr. Abel P. Grosvenor, a large man somewhat resem- 
bling Pomeroy, passing along the street, the mob raised the cry, 
" Kill the damned tory,'' chased him down Main street until he 


fell, and were apparently about to put their threat in execution, 
when they learned it was not Pomeroy. Others proposed to 
tear down the " Federal printing office," as they called the Buf- 
falo Gazette, and everything betokened a general carnival of 

Before, however, the riot spread any further. Colonel Moses 
Porter, of the United States artillery, a veteran of thirty-six 
years service, interposed. His men were probably encamped 
at Flint Hill, north of Scajaquada creek. When he learned 
what was going on, he ordered out a detachment of artillery 
with a six-pound gun, and hastened down Main street. Halting 
just above the hotel he brought his gun to bear on it, and then 
sent a lieutenant and a platoon of men with drawn swords to 
clear the house. The order was vigorously carried out, and it 
is to be presumed that some resistance was made, as swords 
and pistols were freely used, and several of the mob killed and 
wounded. They were soon driven out, many jumping from the 
chamber windows, and some being severely cut as they clung to 
the window-sills, by the swords of the artillerists. The rest 
hastened to their encampment to seek their comrades, swearing 
vengeance against Porter and his men. 

The veteran stationed his cannon at the junction of Main and 
Niagara streets, to await their coming, and for awhile it looked 
as if there might be a pitched battle in the streets of Buffalo. 
No attack was made, however, and order was at length restored. 
It indicates the kind of discipline in force that the rioters were 
in no way punished, except by the severe handling they received 
from Porter. 

Pomeroy went to the Seneca village and remained some days, 
and then closed his hotel for the winter. That the proprietors 
of the Gazette considered themselves in a very delicate and 
dangerous position is shown by the fact that that journal does 
not contain one word, directly, about this important transaction. 
The only time it is spoken of in the paper is in an advertise- 
ment published December iSth, signed by Pomeroy, in which 
he declares that he shall close his hotel " in consequence of 
transactions too well known to need mentioning." 

An epidemic, the nature of which was unknown, prevailed 
that winter on the frontier, carrying off many, both soldiers and 


citizens. Dr. Chapin and a Dr. Wilson called a meeting of 
physicians to endeavor to counteract it. It did not much abate 
till the last of January, 1813. Mr. Grosvenor only escaped the 
raging mob to die a few weeks later, in the East, of disease 
contracted here. Major Phineas Stephens, the commander of 
the Willink " Silver Greys," was another victim ; he died at 
Black Rock, and was taken to Willink and buried with military 

In the middle of December an election was held for members 
of Congress. The Republicans (Democrats) renominated Gen. 
Porter, but he declined, and Messrs. Bates and Loomis were 
voted for by them in this congressional district. The Federal- 
ists supported Messrs. Howell and Hopkins, who were elected. 
The latter received .sixty-one votes in the town of Buffalo, thirty- 
six in Hamburg, forty-one in Clarence, and thirty-seven in 
" Edon." The Republican candidates received thirty-four in 
Buffalo, eighty-one in Hamburg, ninety-two in Clarence, and 
fourteen in Eden. It was a light vote, but it will be seen that 
Buffalo and Eden were decidedly Federal, while Hamburg and 
Clarence were as decidedly Republican. 

Says the next Gazette : "We understand" that no election was 
held in Willink and Concord. Their understanding was correct, 
but it is remarkable not only that no election was held, but also 
that a newspaper at the county-seat should not have been fully 
informed as to whether there was one or not. 

Tompkins, who was personally popular, was elected governor 
by the Democrats, but the disasters of the summer, under a 
Democratic administration, had so aided the Federals that nine- 
teen out of the twenty-seven congressmen chosen in this State, 
and. the majority of the assembly, belonged to the latter party. 
The State senate, however, was largely Democratic. In the na- 
tion at large, Madison was reelected President by a decided ma- 
jority over De Witt Clinton, who had been a Democrat, but was 
an independent opposition candidate. He received the Federal 
vote, but declared himself in favor of a more vigorous prosecu- 
tion of the war. 

There can be little doubt but that if that energetic leader had 
become President instead of the plausible but inefficient Madi- 
son, the war would not have been the wretched, milk-and-water 


affair that..it_was. One side or the other would have been 
soundly whipped. 

On the 22d of December the immortal Smyth resigned his 
command to Col. Moses Porter, and retired to Virginia on leave 
of absence. Before his leave expired Congress legislated him 
out of ofifice, and the country received no further benefit from his 
military genius. 

For several months after the election, there was general quiet on 
this part of the frontier, reUeved only by occasional "statements" 
on the part of some of the heroes of the latest and most re- 
markable invasion of Canada. 




The Young Commodore. — Officers and Committeemen. — Hunters Caught. — Canada 
Invaded. — Transition Period of our Military System. — Surrender at Beaver 
Dams. — Chapin's Exploit. — Indians Enrolled. —Farmer's Brother and the Ma- 
rauders. — A Raid and its Repulse. — Skirmishing at Fort George. — Perry's Vic- 
tory. — A Patriotic Digression. — More Skirmishing. — Burning of Newark. — 
McClure Runs Away. — Fort Niagara Captured. — Danger Impending. 

Early in March, while all was still quiet among the land forces, 
a young man of twenty-six, with curling locks, bold, handsome 
features and gallant bearing, wearing the uniform of a captain 
in the United States navy, arrived at Buffalo from the East, and 
after a brief stay went forward to Erie. His brilliant yet man- 
ly appearance was well calculated to make a favorable impres- 
sion, yet to many thoughtful men he seemed too young, and 
possibly too gay, for the arduous and responsible position to 
which he had been appointed. But a few months were to demon- 
strate that for once the government had made an admirable se- 
lection, for the youthful stranger was Oliver Hazard Perry, then 
on his way to superintend the fitting out of a naval armament 
at Erie. 

During the winter the government had purchased a number 
of merchant vessels, for the purpose of converting them into 
men-of-war, and the construction of several new ones had been 
begun. Erie, from its comparatively secure harbor, had been 
wisely selected as the naval headquarters. Five vessels, how- 
ever, were fitted out in Scajaquada creek, and for several months 
Perry flitted back and forth between the two places, urging on 
the work with all the energy of his nature. 

Though hardly to be called a part of the "campaign," there 
are a few items that can be more easily introduced here than 
elsewhere. The supervisors for 1813 were Elijah Holt of Buf- 
falo, James Cronk of Clarence, Elias Osborn of Willink, Sam- 


uel Abbott of Hamburg, and John C. Twining of Eden ; 
Concord unknown. 

For a short time the ever-active Dr. Chapin officiated as 
sheriff, but in the spring he was superseded by Asa Ransom, 
who had twice before held the office. The change was perhaps 
caused by the doctor's acceptance of a commission from the 
governor as lieutenant-colonel by brevet. Under that com- 
mission he subsequently acted, but in very much the same 
independent fashion as before. Amos Callender was appointed 
surrogate. Jonas Williams was reelected to the assembly by the 

Up to April the war was apparently frozen up. Early in that 
month the Buffalonians were sharply reminded that they must 
be careful where they strayed. Lieutenant Dudley, of the navy. 
Dr. Trowbridge, Mr. Frederick B. Merrill and three seamen, 
while hunting on Strawberry Island, were discovered from the 
Canadian shore, a squad of men was sent across, and all were 
captured. The two civilians were released, but the lieutenant 
and his men were of course retained. 

Ere long soldiers began to arrive on the frontier, besides those 
who had remained during the winter. On the 17th of April, 
Major-General Lewis and Brigadier-General Boyd arrived in 
Buffalo to assume command according to their respective ranks. 
General Dearborn took command on the whole northern frontier. 
The British force on the other side of the Niagara was very 

The campaign in the north was commenced by an expedition 
from Sacket's Harbor, under Gen. Dearborn and Commodore 
Chauncey, by which York (now Toronto) was captured by a 
dashing attack, the gallant General Pike being killed by the 
explosion of the enemy's magazine. This triumph prevented 
the sending of reenforcements to the British forts on the Niag- 
ara, and when our fleet appeared off Fort George, about the 
25th of May, it was immediately evacuated. 

The Americans under Gen. Lewis crossed and occupied it. 
Gen. Porter acted as volunteer aid-de-camp to Gen. Lewis, and 
the Buffalo Gazette takes pains to state that " Dr. C. Chapin, of 
this village, was in the vanguard." The British retreated toward 
the head of Lake Ontario. 


The same day the commandant at Fort Erie, who held that 
post with a body of militia, received orders under which he kept 
up a heavy cannonade on Black Rock until the following morn- 
ing, when he bursted his guns, blew up his magazines, destroyed 
his stores apd dismissed his men. All the other public stores, 
barracks and magazines, from Chippewa to Point Abino, were 
likewise destroyed, Lt.-Col. Preston, the commandant at Black 
Rock, immediately crossed and took possession. 

So, at length, the Americans had obtained possession of the 
Canadian side of the Niagara, and it would seem that it need 
not have been difficult to retain it. But the blundering of the 
government, the weakness of commanders, and the general 
apathy of the people during a great part of that war were alike 

The greatest difficulty was that of obtaining a permanent 
force. In fact a great part of the disasters of the war of 1812 
were attributable to a cause which I have never yet seen fully 
set forth. The whole military system of the country was in a 
transition state. 

During the revolution, the sole military reliance of the nation 
was on the regular " Continental " army. But thirty years of free 
government had made Americans extremely unwilling to sub- 
ject themselves to the menial position and supposed despotic 
discipline of the regular service. On the other hand, the sys- 
tem of organizing volunteers which has since been found so 
effisctive was then in its infancy. 

Frequent attempts were made in that direction, but they were 
generally managed by the State authorities, the discipline was of 
the most lax description, and the terms of service were exces- 
sively short. In Smyth's command, as we have seen, were a 
few " Federal volunteers," enlisted for twelve months, but they 
were composed of six independent companies, from diffisrent 
States, temporarily aggregated in a battallion. 

There was not a single organization corresponding to the 
present definition of a volunteer regiment — a body of intelligent 
freemen, enlisted for a long term of service, officered by the 
State authorities, but otherwise controlled entirely by those of 
the nation, and subject to the same rules as the regulars, though 
modified in their application by the character of the force. 


As a general rule, if a volunteer of 1812 stayed on the line 
three months, he thought he had done something wonderful. 

Moreover, there were at first almost no officers. Those who had 
fought in the Revolution were generally too old for active service, 
and West Point had not yet furnished a body of men whose 
thorough instruction supplies to a great extent the lack of ex- 
perience. A little knowledge of the history of the war of 18 12 
ought to satisfy the most frantic reformer of the overwhelming 
necessity of maintaining the National Military Academy in the 
most efficient condition. 

Add to these causes of weakness a timid, vacillating Presi- 
dent, and a possible unwillingness of the then dominant South 
to strengthen the North by the acquisition of Canada, and there 
are sufficient reasons for the feebleness characterizing the prose- 
cution of the war of 18 12. 

Yet many rude efforts were made to provide against possible 
disaster. It was in 18 13, as I am informed, that the inhabitants 
on the upper part of Cazenove creek, most of them living in the 
present town of Holland, combined and built a stockade of con- 
siderable magnitude on the farm of Arthur Humphrey. Logs 
were cut nearly fifteen feet long, hewn on two sides so as to fit 
closely together, and set side by side two or three feet in the 
earth, leaving some twelve feet above ground. About an acre 
was thus inclosed, and the walls being loop-holed for rifles the 
inhabitants hoped to defy any Indian assailants, or even white 
men unprovided with artillery. The stockade was commonly 
called " Fort Humphrey," and long after peace had returned, 
long after the primitive fortress had disappeared from sight, the 
Humphrey place was known for miles around as " the Fort 

About the same time, or perhaps the year before. Captain 
Bemis' barn in Hamburg was surrounded by a similar stockade, 
twelve feet high. There was also a block-house built in that 
viqgsiity. Joseph Palmer's barn in Boston was likewise stock- 
ade(J, and there may have been other such fortifications in the 
county of which I have not happened to hear. 

Decidedly the most active partisan commander on the Niag- 
ara frontier was Col. Chapin, though there may be some doubts 
as to the usefulness of his efforts, so irregular and desultory 

230 chapin's exploit. 

were they. In June he organized a company of mounted rifle- 
men, for the purpose of clearing the country along the other 
side of the river of scattered bands of foes. 

They proceeded to Fort George, and on the 23d of June a 
force started up the river from that point. It consisted of four 
or five hundred regular infantry, twenty regular dragoons, and 
Chapin's company of forty-four mounted riflemen, the whole 
under Lt.-Col. Boerstler. On the 24th, when nine miles west of 
Oueenston, at a place called Beaver Dams, it was attacked by a 
force of British and Indians. After some skirmishing and 
marching, accompanied with slight loss, the assailants sent a flag 
to Col. Boerstler, and on the mere statement of the bearer that 
the British regular force was double the Americans, besides 
seven hundred Indians, that officer surrendered his whole 

Chapin and his Erie county volunteers were sent to the head 
of Lake Ontario, (now Hamilton,) whence the colonel, two offi- 
cers and twenty-six privates were ordered to Kingston, by water, 
under guard of a lieutenant and fifteen men. They were all in 
two boats ; one containing the British lieutenant and thirteen 
men and the three American officers — the second filled with 
the other twenty-six prisoners, a British sergeant and one sol- 
dier. Before starting, the colonel managed to arrange with his 
men a signal for changing the programme. When about 
twenty miles out on Lake Ontario, Col. Chapin gave the signal 
and his men ran their boat alongside of the one he was in. The 
British lieutenant ordered them to drop back, and Chapin or- 
dered them on board. The former attempted to draw his sword, 
when the colonel, a large, powerful man, seized him by the neck 
and flung him on his back. Two of the soldiers drew their bay- 
onets, but he seized one in each hand, and at the same time h^, 
men swarmed into the boat and wrested their arms from the 
guard, who were unable, in their contracted cjuarters, to fire a 
shot or use a bayonet. 

The victors then headed for Fort George, where, after rowing 
nearly all night, they arrived a little before daylight and turned 
over their late guard to the commandant as prisoners. It was a 
gallant little exploit, and effectually refutes the charge of cow- 
ardice which some have brought against Colonel Chapin. 


The British men-of-war still commanded the lake, though 
Perry's fleet was fast preparing to dispute their supremacy. 
About the 15th of June the five vessels which had been fitted 
up in Scajaquada creek stole out of Black Rock, and joined 
Perry at Erie. While one of these ships lay at anchor in the 
Niagara, just before leaving, a boat which was crossing the river 
ran afoul of her cable and was upset, and Mr. Gamaliel St. John, 
his eldest son, and three soldiers who were with them, were 

The Queen Charlotte and other British vessels this year, as 
last, hovered along the lake shore and occasionally sent a boat's 
crew ashore to depredate on the inhabitants of Hamburg and 
Evans. One day we read of their chasing a boat into the mouth 
of the Cattaraugus ; at another time a boat's crew landed and 
plundered IngersoU's tavern at the mouth of Eighteen-Mile 

Up to the present period, no Indians had been taken into the 
service of the United States. In the spring General Lewis in- 
vited the warriors of the Six Nations to come to his camp, and 
three or four hundred of them did come, under the lead of the 
veteran Farmer's Brother. On their arrival they were requested 
to take no part for the time, but to send a deputation to the 
Mohawks to induce them to withdraw from the British service, 
in which case the Senecas and their associates were also to 

Many appeared disappointed on finding they were not. to 
fight, but were merely to be used to keep others from fighting, 
though this was the policy that Red Jacket favored throughout. 
But the Mohawks and other British Indians showed no disposi- 
tion to withdraw from the field, and as we have seen took a 
prominent part in the capture of Colonels Boerstler and Chapin. 

In the early part of July, too, a skirmish took place near 
Fort George, in which an American lieutenant and ten men 
were captured, who were never heard of more, and were sup- 
posed to have been slain by the savages. 

Then, at length. Gen. Boyd accepted the services of the war- 
riors of the Six Nations. Those then enrolled numbered four 
hundred, and there were never over five hundred and fifty in 
the service. 


It is difficult to say who was their leader. One account says 
it was Farmer's Brother, and another designates Henry O'Bail 
(the Young Cornplanter) as holding that position. Still another 
will have it that Young King was their principal war-chief, while 
Captain Pollard undoubtedly acted as such the next year, at the 
battle of Chippewa. 

The truth seems to have been that the designation of general- 
issimo, like most Indian arrangements, was decidedly indefinite. 
There was a considerable number of undoubted war-chiefs, but 
no one who was unquestionably entitled to the principal com- 
mand. Farmer's Brother was generally recognized, both by In- 
dians and whites, as the greatest of the war-chiefs, and was 
allowed a kind of primacy among them, but he was very old, 
and I cannot gather that he held any definite rank above the 
rest. Leaders for active service seem to have been chosen from 
time to time, either by actual election or by general consent. 

When they first turned out, a large body of them under Farm- 
er's Brother camped in the woods just west of Buffalo, near the 
cabin of a Mr. Aigin, who lived half-way between Main street 
and the foot of Prospect Hill. His son, James Aigin, then a 
boy, who has furnished many reminiscences of those times to the 
Historical Society, says that one night several Indians came to 
his father's house and endeavored to force an entrance. There 
were two or three well-armed men, who held the intruders at bay. 
Presently they got on the roof and began to take it off. Aigin 
put his son out of the window, and bade him run and notify 
Farmer's Brother. The boy found the chieftain wrapped in 
sleep among his braves. He laid his hand on the old warrior, 
who bounded up like a youth of twenty. On being informed of. 
the difficulty, he hastily proceeded to Aigin's cabin. No sooner 
did the marauders dimly see that gigantic form striding toward 
them amid the trees, than every men of them at once took to his 
heels. The chieftain assured the family of his protection, and 
for the remainder of the night he lay beside their cabin fire. 

Not long after this it would seem that the Indians all returned 

Meanwhile General Dearborn had withdrawn all the regular 
soldiers from Buffalo and Black Rock, leaving a large amount of 
public stores entirely undefended. Being advised, however, of 


the danger of a raid, he ordered ten artillerists to be stationed at 
the block-house at Black Rock, and called for five hundred mili- 
tia from the neighboring counties. Between a hundred and fifty 
and two hundred of these arrived at the threatened point early 
in July, and were stationed at the warehouses at Black Rock, 
being under the command of Major Parmenio Adams, of Gene- 
see county. They had three pieces of field artillery, and near 
by was a battery of four heavy guns. Nearly a hundred recruits 
for the regular infantry and dragoons, on their way to Dearborn's 
headquarters, under the command of Captain Cummings, were 
ordered to stop at Buffalo ; Judge Granger was directed to en- 
gage as many Seneca warriors as he could, and General Porter, 
who was then staying at his residence at Black Rock, was re- 
quested to take command of the whole. 

The episode about to be narrated is one of the most exciting 
in the annals of this county. Except the burning of Buffalo, 
no other affair of so much importance took place within the 
limits of the county during the war of 1812 ; and it was, on the 
whole, decidedly creditable to the American arms ; yet it is 
almost utterly unknown to our citizens, and is rarely mentioned 
in the annals of that era. Other events of greater magnitude 
distracted public attention at the time, and the burning of Buf- 
falo, a few months later, obliterated from the minds of men all 
memory of less terrible transactions. 

There is a brief mention of it in Ketchum's " Buffalo and the 
Senecas," but the only extended account I have seen is in 
Stone's " Life of Red Jacket." The following narrative is de- 
rived from a careful examination of that account, (which was 
funfished by Gen. Porter,) of the original description in the Buf- 
falo Gazette, of a letter from Judge Granger, published by 
Ketchum, and of personal reminiscences furnished to the His- 
torical Society by Benjamin Hodge, Daniel Brayman, James 
Aigin and Mrs. Jane Bidwcll. 

By the loth of July Judge Granger had received such positive 
information of an immediate attack, accompanied by special 
threats against himself, that he invited some Indians to come to 
his house, north of the Scajaquada. Thirty-seven of them ar- 
rived at eleven o'clock that (Saturday) night, under the lead of 
Farmer's Brother. As they were not all armed, and as the judge 


was confident that the enemy would be over the next day, he 
sent to the village and got a full supply of arms and ammuni- 
tion for his braves that same night. 

The British headquarters were at Lundy's Lane, close by the 
Falls, where their expedition was fitted out. The commander 
was Lieutenant-Colonel Bishop, a brave and enterprising officer, 
the same to whom Colonels Boerstler and Chapin had surren- 
dered at Beaver Dams. He had under him a part of the 41st 
regiment of the British army, and a detachment of Canadian 
militia commanded by Col. Clark. 

They took boat at Chippewa on the night of the lOth, and, 
after rowing against the current in the darkness several hours, 
landed just after daylight a mile below the mouth of the Sca- 
jaquada. Forming his men. Col. Bishop led them rapidly up the 
river bank. There was a single sentinel at the Scajaquada bridge, 
but on the sudden appearance of the red-coats he flung away his 
musket, dodged into the woods and took a bee-line, as near as 
he could calculate, for Williamsville. A few men were asleep 
in the block-house, but the British column swept silently by 
without disturbing them, and quickly approached the encamp- 
ment of Major Adams. His men must have been aroused a 
little before the enemy reached them, for they all made their 
escape, but they attempted no resistance and fled without even 
spiking the cannon in their charge. A detachment of the invad ■ 
ers went to the house of Gen. Porter, who had barely time to 
escape, fleeing without his arms, and some say with only a single 
garment, ^t first he attempted to reach Major Adams' encamp- 
ment, but finding this impossible he turned toward Buffalo. 

Thus far the affair had been after the usual pattern of oper- 
ations in the early part of that war, and highly discreditable to 
the Americans. The victors supposed all resistance at an end. 
Some of them were set to work burning the block-house and 
barracks, others spiked the heavy guns in the battery and took 
away the field-pieces, and others went through the village cap- 
turing and taking across the river four or five principal citizens, 
while the officers, so secure did they feel, ordered breakfast at 
General Porter's. At the same time considerable reinforcements 
of provincial militia crossed the river in boats, to share the 
fruits of the easy victory. 


But a Storm was gathering. When the militia first began its 
retreat a messenger was sent to Buffalo, on whose arrival Capt. 
Cummings mustered his recruits and marched toward the scene 
of action. On his way he met General Porter, who ordered him 
to proceed to a piece of open ground not far from the site of the 
reservoir, and await reinforcements. 

Taking a horse, sword, and other equipments from one of 
Cummings' dragoons, the general galloped down to the village, 
where he found everything in confusion, the women and chil- 
dren in a state of terror, and the men in the streets with arms 
in their hands, but doubtful whether to fight or flee. Being as- 
sured that there was a chance of success, forty or fifty of them 
formed ranks under Captain Bull, the commander of the Buffalo 
volunteer company, and marched to join Cummings. 

Of the retreating militia some had fled into the woods and 
never stopped till they reached home ; but about a hundred had 
been kept together by Lieutenant Phineas Staunton, the adju- 
tant of the battalion, a resolute young officer, who was allowed 
to assume entire command by his major. The supineness of the 
latter is excused by General Porter on the ground of ill health. 
Staunton and his men, who had retreated up the beach, left it 
and took post near the Buffalo road. 

Meanwhile Major King, of the regular army, who was acci- 
dentally at Black Rock, on seeing the sudden retreat of the 
militia hurried through the woods to Judge Granger's, whence 
the alarm was speedily carried to the scattered inhabitants of 
" Buffalo Plains." Farmer's Brother at once gathered his war- 
riors and made them a little speech, telling them that they must 
now go and fight the red-coats ; that their country was invaded; 
that they had a common interest with the people of the United 
States, and that they must show their friendship for their Am- 
erican brethren by deeds, not words. The octogenarian chieftain 
then led his little band to join his friend Conashustah, (the 
Indian name of General Porter). 

Volunteers, too, came hurrying to the village from the Plains 
and Cold Spring, until about thirty were gathered, who were 
placed under the command of Captain William Hull, of the 
militia. General Porter now felt able to cope with the enemy. 
Bringing together his forces, numbering but about three hundred 


all told, at the open ground before mentioned, he made his dis- 
positions for an attack. As the foe held a strong position at 
Major Adams' encampment. Porter determined to attack him on 
three sides at once, to prevent the destructive use of artillery on 
a column massed in front. 

The regulars and Captain Bull's Buffalo volunteers formed the 
centre. The Genesee militia, under Staunton, were on the left, 
nearest the river, while Captain Hull's men were directed to co- 
operate with the Indians, who had gathered in the woods on the 
. right front. Farmer's Brother prepared for action, and his braves 
followed ; each dusky warrior stripping to the skin, all save his 
breech clout and a plaited cord around the waist, (called a ma- 
turnip,) which sustained his powder horn, tomahawk and knife, 
and which could be used to bind prisoners if any were taken. 
Then, grasping their rifles, the stalwart Senecas quickly ranged 
themselves in line, with their chiefs a few yards in front. 

At eight o'clock the signal for attack was given. Just as the 
three detachments moved forward, however, Major King arrived 
on the ground and claimed the command of the regulars from 
Captain Cummings. A slight delay ensued ere the command 
was transferred, and then the major did not fully understand the 
general's orders. Consequently the central detachment was de- 
tained a few moments, and meanwhile the militia, gallantly led 
on by Staunton and ashamed of their recent flight, dashed for- 
ward against the enemy. 

A fight of some fifteen or twenty minutes ensued, in which 
the militia stood up against the British regulars without flinch- 
ing, though three of their men were killed and five wounded, 
no slight loss out of a hundred in so short a time. The right 
flank of the Americans came up, the Indians raised the war- 
whoop and opened fire, and it has often been found that the 
capacity of these painted warriors for inspiring fear is much 
greater than the actual injury they inflict. Col. Bishop, who had 
obtained a mount on this side, was severely though not fatally 
wounded, and fell from his horse. His men became demoral- 
ized, and when the regulars appeared in front the enemy fled 
toward the water's edge with great precipitation, before Major 
King's command had time to take part in the fight. 

The whole American force then pressed forward together, the 


Indians making the forest resound with savage yells. The chief, 
Young King, and another warrior were wounded. Part of the 
British wounded were carried off, but part were left on the field. 
A sergeant, shot in the leg, lay under the bank, near the pres- 
ent residence of L. F. Allen, on Niagara street. A Seneca war- 
rior jumped down and stopped to load his rifle a short distance 
from him. The sergeant sat up and snapped his musket at him, 
but it missed fire. Without waiting to finish loading, the In- 
dian sprang upon his enemy, snatched away his gun, and at one ' 
blow knocked out his brains, at the same time breaking the 
musket short off at the breech. 

At the Black Rock landing the British rallied, but on the ap- 
proach of the Americans, hastily retreated into some boats 
which they found there, leaving fifteen prisoners in the hands 
of their pursuers. Many were killed and wounded after enter- 
ing the boats, but the chief loss fell on the last one. It con- 
tained sixty men and most of the officers, including Colonel 
Bishop, who, notwithstanding his wound, had insisted on re- 
maining to the last. The whole American force came up to the 
bank and opened fire on this boat, inflicting terrible injury. 
Two or three Indians even sprang into the water, seized the 
boat by the gunwale and endeavored to direct it ashore, but 
were compelled to desist by the fire of their friends in the rear. 

Captain Saunders, of the British Forty-first, was severely 
wounded at the water's edge and left a prisoner. Colonel Bishop 
was pierced with several bullets, receiving wound^ of which he 
soon died, and several other officers were killed or wounded. 
Presently the men dropped their oars and made signals of sur- 
render. The firing ceased and the boat dropped down the river, 
followed along the bank by some of the Americans, who or- 
dered the occupants to come ashore, which they declared them- 
selves willing to do, but so disabled they could not. 

Meanwhile, however, our Indians had begun stripping the 
dead and prisoners. They seized on Captain Saunders' sword, 
belt and epaulets, and perhaps some of his garments. The 
men in the boat thought, or claimed they thought, that the war- 
riors were tomahawking and scalping him. Either actually be- 
lieving this or using it as an excuse, they would not come ashore 
in accordance with their surrender, but, after dropping down to 


the head of Squaw Island, suddenly seized their oars and by 
desperate exertions got under its shelter, though not without 
again suffering severely from the bullets of the Americans. In 
fact, however, Captain Saunders, though badly wounded by balls, 
bore no mark of tomahawk or knife, and, after being carefully 
tended for several weeks at General Porter's residence, finally 
recovered and was for more than thirty years a British pensioner. 

The enemy left eight killed and seven wounded on the field, 
besides a number carried into the boats and a still larger num- 
ber hit after the embarkation. They were said at the time to 
have acknowledged a total loss in killed, wounded and prisoners 
of nearly a hundred. The Americans lost none but those al- 
ready mentioned, who all, except the two Indians, belonged to 
that same body of militia that had fled so ingloriously in the 
early morning. They were in the front of the fray throughout, 
and gallantly retrieved their tarnished reputation. Their good 
conduct was doubtless due largely to the example of Adjutant 
Staunton, whom major and captains allowed to take full com- 
mand, who also distinguished himself on several other occasions 
in the war of 18 12, and whose soldierly qualities were trans- 
mitted to his son, Phineas Staunton, the gallant first lieutenant- 
colonel of the 1 00th New York volunteers in the war for the 

All the accounts speak in high terms of the conduct of the 
Seneca warriors. They fought well and were not especially 
savage. They stripped their dead enemies, however, of every 
rag of clothing, and young Aigin, who went upon the field after 
the fight, relates having seen the whole eight bodies lying 
together, thus stark and white, in the forest. 

Although the numbers engaged in this affair were not large, 
it was a quite exciting conflict for Erie county, and is of im- 
portance as showing the value of one or two resolute officers in 
rallying and inspiriting a body of raw troops, utterly demoralized 
by less efficient leadership. 

General Dearborn had resigned the command of the northern 
frontier just before this event, and a little after it General Wil- 
kinson added another to the long list of occupants of that un- 
fortunate position. 

Colonel Chapin having returned, General Porter and he 


gathered up another body of volunteers, and went down to Fort 
George, taking a hundred or so Indians with them. "Being," ac- 
cording to General Boyd's report, "very impatient to engage the 
enemy," that officer kindly got up an expedition to accommodate 
them. A plan was concerted to cut off one of the enemy's 
pickets on the morning of the 17th of August. 

Chapin was sent out west from Fort George for the purpose, 
with about three hundred volunteers and Indians, supported by 
two hundred regulars under Major Cummings. Porter volun- 
teered in the affair and probably commanded the whole, though 
the report does not definitely say so. A heavy rain retarded 
their progress, so the picket was not captured, but a fight ensued 
in which the volunteers and Indians captured sixteen prisoners, 
and killed a considerable number of the enemy who were left 
on the field ; one account says seventy-five, but this is doubtful. 
The principal chiefs who took part in this affair were Farmer's 
Brother, Red Jacket, Little Billy, Captain Pollard, Black Snake, 
Hank Johnson (the white man). Silver Heels, Captain Half- 
town, Major Henry O'Bail (Young Cornplanter), and Captain 
Cold (an Onondaga chief), who was wounded. 

Chapin and his volunteers, and most of the Indians, continued 
to operate in the vicinity of Fort George until the seventh of 
September, when they returned to Buffalo. 

A few days later came news of a battle which, though fought 
a hundred and fifty miles away, has always been contemplated 
with feelings of especial interest and sympathy by the people of 
Erie county, since it decided the supremacy of the great lake 
from which that county is named, whose waters wash its shores 
and whose commerce passes along its borders. I refer of course 
to "Perry's Victory." Glad were the hearts of our people 
and great were their rejoicings, when they learned that after a 
desperate contest the gallant Perry, with a force inferior both in 
men and guns, had captured or destroyed the whole British 
fleet. In Buffalo the ever-prominent Chapin fired a rousing 
salute, and at night every window in the village was a blaze of 

Among those who took a prominent part in that victory was 
a young officer, a cousin of Perry, then a sailing-master in com- 
mand of the Scorpion, afterwards a well-known and highly- 


respected citizen of Buffalo, Commodore Stephen Champlin. 
From his ship were fired the first and the last shots in the battle 
of Lake Erie. 

And here I will venture on a digression inspired by the con- 
templation- of the dazzling victory won by that boyish New 
England commodore on the loth of September, 1813. What 
subtle influence is it which makes the American sailor always a 
hero 1 The most devoted patriot cannot pretend but that our 
generals and soldiers have frequently failed in their duty, and their 
conduct has sometimes been positively disgraceful. We have 
had scores of able generals and hundreds of thousands of val- 
iant soldiers, but we have had enough who were neither able nor 
valiant to give a decided check to our national egotism. The 
war of 181 2, especially, shows numerous instances of folly, or 
cowardice, or both, on the part of our land-forces and their com- 
manders, flagrant enough to make an American, even at this late 
day, overflow with anger and shame. 

But the annals of the American navy are one long and bril- 
liant record of heroism, with hardly a solitary blemish. Our 
sailors have been defeated, for victory is not always in mortal 
power to compass, but their defeats have been scarcely less 
glorious than their victories. Paul Jones compelling the surren- 
der of a British man-of-war after his own decks had been swept 
almost clear of men ; Preble triumphing over the pirates of the 
Mediterranean ; Decatur, and Hull, and Stewart, and Bain- 
bridge, bringing down the haughty flag of St. George on the 
Atlantic ; Lawrence, defeated and dying, whispering with his 
latest breath, "Don't give up the ship;" Perry, passing in a fra- 
gile boat amid a storm of shot to a fresh vessel, and snatching 
victory from the grasp of defeat ; McDonough annihilating 
the foe on Lake Champlain ; Morris going down to a watery 
grave with the Cumberland ; Worden matching his little Monitor 
against the mighty Merrimac ; Winslow sinking the Alabama 
with his terrible broadsides ; old Farragut at the mast-head 
dashing past the flaming forts of Mobile Bay ; young Cushing, 
bravest of all the brave, blowing up the Albemarle and his own 
ship with his own hand; from first to last, from highest to low- 
est, from oldest to youngest, in victory or defeat, American ad- 
mirals, commodores, captains, lieutenants, sailors, middies, cabin- 


boys, with hardly a solitary exception, have ever borne themselves 
so as to fill their countrymen with glowing enthusiasm, and com- 
pel the admiration of their bitterest foes. 

Immediately succeeding Perry's victory came that of Harri- 
son over Proctor, and the death of Tecumseh. It being sup- 
posed that the upper peninsula was pretty well cleared of foes. 
Gen. Wilkinson's forces were nearly all withdrawn to the lower 
end of Lake Ontario. 

Just before he left, a correspondence took place, which shows 
how little comprehension even the most public-spirited men had 
of the needs of the military service. Porter, Chapin and Col. 
Joseph McClure wrote to Wilkinson from Black Rock, stating 
that in expectation of a decisive movement they had repaired to 
Fort George, with five hundred men — militia, volunteers and In- 
dians. " Most of us," said the writers, " remained there twelve 
or fourteen days, but our hopes not being realized, the men con- 
tinually dispersed and went home." 

The three gentlemen then offered to raise a thousand or twelve 
hundred men, either to aid Wilkinson in a sally from Fort George, 
or, on being furnished with a battery of artillery, "to invade the 
enemy's country," with a view to dispersing his forces before 
Wilkinson should withdraw. 

The most disastrous experience had not yet convinced our 
ablest men of the impossibility of making an effective aggres- 
sive movement with a crowd of undisciplined, ungoverned men, 
who would leave camp if they could not have a fight in fourteen 
days. Wilkinson forwarded the proposition to the Secretary of 
War, who did not accept it. 

The force left behind by Wilkinson was under the command 
of Gen. George McClure, of Steuben county, a brigadier-gene- 
ral of the New York militia, who made his headquarters at Fort 
George, and immediately issued several flaming proclamations. 

On the 6th of October, Col. Chapin, with one of those heter- 
ogeneous collections of men so common at that time, had an 
all-day skirmish with some British outposts, near Fort George. 
He claimed to have killed eighteen of the enemy, while but 
three of his own men were slain. Doubtful. He had with him 
"Crosby's and Sackrider's companies" of militia, a few other 
men and some Indians. 

242 m'clure and chapin. 

On the 24th of October, Harrison and Perry, with their vic- 
torious army and fleet, came down the lake to Buffalo. The 
little town was aglow to do honor to the heroes, and on the 25 th 
a dinner was given to the two commanders at " Pomeroy's 
Eagle," which had been refitted and reopened a short time be- 
fore. At the head of the committee of arrangements, composed 
of the principal citizens, was the ubiquitous Chapin. At the 
dinner Porter presided, with Chapin, Townsend and Trowbridge, 
as vice-presidents. The next day Harrison and his army crossed 
the river and went down to Fort George, and thence in a short 
time to Sacket's Harbor. 

Gen. McClure was thus left with about a thousand militia, 
two hundred and fifty Indians, and sixty regulars. The terms 
of the militia were fast expiring, and they would not stay a day 
beyond them. Another draft was accordingly ordered, about 
the middle of November, of six hundred men from Hopkins' 
brigade, under Lt.-Col. Warren. These marched to Ft. George 
and remained nearly a month. 

On the 7th of December, Gen. McClure sent out an expedi- 
tion along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Lt.-Col. Chapin 
was in command of the advance. He afterwards declared that 
McClure had not only left him unsupported, but had expressed 
his desire that Chapin should be captured. A very bitter feel- 
ing had certainly grown up between them, and it is evident that 
Chapin had a peculiar faculty for getting into trouble. He is- 
sued as many statements as any of the generals, and denounced 
without stint those whom he did not admire. 

When the term of Warren's regiment of militia was about 
to expire, McClure determined to abandon Fort George. In this 
he was unquestionably justifiable, as his remaining force would 
have been entirely inadequate to defend it. But he at the same 
time took a step cruel in itself, and fraught with woe to the Am- 
erican frontier. He ordered the burning of the flourishing vil- 
lage of Newark, situated close to the fort, and containing about 
a hundred and fifty houses. The inhabitants were turned out 
into the snow, and the torch applied to every building in the 

McClure claimed that he acted under orders from the Secre- 
tary of War, but he produced no such orders, and it appears that 

m'clure's flight. 243 

there were none, except that the general was authorized to burn 
Newark if necessary to defend the fort. As he had already de- 
cided to abandon the fort, of course these orders did not apply. 
Chapin and the general had another bitter quarrel, the former 
roundly denouncing the destruction of the village. Soon after, 
Chapin resigned his command. 

McClure moved the remnant of his force across the river, 
closely pressed by the enraged British. Leaving Fort Niagara 
defended by a hundred and fifty regulars, he called two hundred 
others from Canandaigua to Buffalo. 

On the morning of December 19th, Fort Niagara was sur- 
prised and captured by a small British force, through the crim- 
inal negligence of its commander, who was at his residence four 
miles away. McClure was not to blame for the transaction, but 
nevertheless he, more than any other one man, was responsible for 
the burning of Buffalo, and the devastation of the whole fron- 
tier. He needlessly destroyed Newark, which of course pro- 
voked retaliation, and then ran away. As soon as Niagara was 
captured he took his two hundred regulars and retreated to Ba- 
tavia, against the earnest protest of the citizens of Buffalo. 
Had they remained as a nucleus for the gathering militia, the 
result might have been entirely different. 

Affidavits were afterwards published, showing that McClure 
said in his anger that he hoped Buffalo would be burned ; that 
he would remain and defend it provided the citizens would catch 
"that damned rascal, Chapin," and deliver him bound into his 
(McClure's) hands. Several of his staff officers, also, were proven 
to have indulged in similar disgraceful language in his presence, 
unrebuked ; expressing their entire willingness that the village 
should be burned. In a properly disciplined army General 
McClure would have been shot. 

Before leaving Buffalo McClure called out the men of Gen- 
esee, Niagara and Chautauqua counties en masse, and on arriv- 
ing at Batavia, on the 22d of December, he turned over the 
command to Major General Hall, the commander of this divi- 
sion of militia. That officer, who manifested no lack of zeal, 
sent forward all the troops he could raise, and proceeded to Buf- 
falo himself on the 25th, leaving McClure to organize and for- 
ward reinforcements. Hall, however, assumed no command 


over the regulars, and there seems to have been a bitterness of 
feeling on the part of their officers which would, perhaps, in the 
demoralized state of affairs, have made it impracticable for him 
to do so. 

The events of the following week form so important a portion 
of the history of Erie county that they will be made the subject 
of a separate chapter. 



Number of Troops. — The Enemy's Approach. — Movements in Defense. — Chapin's 
Wrath. — Attack and Repulse. — Another with same Result. — Blakeslie's Ad- 
vance.— Battle of Black Rock.— The Retreat.— The Flight.— Wilkeson and 
Walden. — Universal Confusion. — The Chapin Girls. — A Side-saddle Express. 
The Pratts' Silver. — "The Indians! the Indians!" — Job Hoysington. — Alfred 
Hodge. — William Hodge. — Attempt at Defense. — Chapin's Negotiation.-— 
Mrs. St. John. — " Prisoners to the Squaws." — A Guard Obtained.— The Vil- 
lage in Flames. — Mis. Dr. Johnson's Sleigh-load. — Murder of Mrs. Lovejoy. 
— The Enemy Retire. — The Slain. — Israel Reed. — Calvin Gary. — McClure 
to Blame.— The Flight in the Country.— The Buffalo Road.— The Big Tree 
Road. — Successive Vacancies. — Exaggerated Reports. — Return of the Brit- 
ish. — More Burning. — Hodge's Tavern. — Keep and Tottman. — The Scene at 
Reese's. — Rebuilding. — Harris Hill. — Relief. 

On the 27th of December General Hall reviewed the forces 
at Buffalo and Black Rock, which were thus described in his 
report : 

At Buffalo there were a hundred and twenty-nine mounted 
volunteers under Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour Broughton, of 
Ontario county ; four hundred and thirty-three Ontario county 
volunteers under Lieutenant-Colonel Blakeslie ; a hundred and 
thirty-six " Buffalo militia " under Lieutenant-Colonel Chapin ; 
ninety-seven Canadian volunteers under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Mallory ; and three hundred and eighty-two Genesee county 
militia under Major Adams. 

At Black Rock, under Brigadier-General Hopkins, were three 
hundred and eighty-two effective men in the corps of Lieuten- 
ant-Colonels Warren and Churchill ; thirty-seven mounted men 
under Captain Ransom; eighty-three Indians under " Lieuten- 
int-Colonel Granger," and one piece of field artillery, with twen- 
ty-five men, under Lieutenant Seeley. The aggregate force at 
DOth places on the 27th, according to the report, was seventeen 
lundred and eleven. Colonel Churchill, above mentioned, com- 
nanded a detachment from Genesee county. The remainder 
af the main body at Black Rock, under Colonel Warren, was 


composed of his own regiment from the south towns of Erie 
county, and Major Hill's detachment from Clarence, still tem- 
porarily consolidated with it. The Buffalo militia, which prop- 
erly belonged in Hill's regiment, seem to have acted indepen- 
dently under Chapin, at least around Buffalo. 

About this time, a body of the enemy came up the river from 
Fort Niagara as far as Tonawanda, or farther, burning everything 
along the river shore. At Tonawanda they burned the guard 
house, and what few dwellings there were in the vicinity with 
one exception. In that a Mrs. Francis was sick up stairs, and 
remained while every one else fled to the woods. Three separate 
■ companies came along and applied the torch, and three times 
the woman crawled out of bed and extinguished the flames. 

On the 27th Gen. Hall received information which made him 
certain that the enemy intended to cross. The 28th passed 
quietly away. On the 29th there arrived a regiment of Chau- 
tauqua county militia, under Lieutenant-Colonel McMahan, 
numbering about three hundred men, bringing the aggregate 
force to a trifle over two thousand. 

Besides Seeley's field-piece there were seven other cannon at 
the two villages, but none of them mounted on carriages. Sev- 
eral of them were in a battery at the top of the hill overlooking 
Black Rock, and with them was Major Dudley, with a part of 
Warren's regiment. The rest, with Churchill's detachment, were 
in the village of Black Rock. As near as I can estimate from 
the official report and Gen. Warren's statement, Dudley had 
about a hundred men, Warren a hundred and fifty, and Churchill 
also a hundred and fifty. 

Capt. John G. Camp was quartermaster-general of the whole 

Patrols were constantly kept out. The excitement among the 
people was of course intense, yet few believed that an attack 
would be successful, looking on the two thousand defenders now 
assembled, and remembering that three hundred men had driven 
back a considerable body of assailants the summer before. 

Near midnight of the 29th a detachment of the enemy landed 
a little below Scajaquada creek. Immediately afterwards a horse- 
patrol discovered them, was fired on, and retreated. The news 
was at once carried to Colonels Warren and Churchill, at Black 


Rock, and then to Gen. Hall, at Buffalo. The latter ordered 
out his men, but, fearing that the enemy's movement was a feint, 
and that he would land in force above Buffalo and march down, 
he did not at first send any considerable force down the river. 

Meanwhile, Gen. Hopkins being absent in Clarence on busi- 
ness, the two colonels at Black Rock turned out their men and 
consulted as to what should be done. Though Warren was the 
senior in rank he seems not to have been formally invested with 
the command at Black Rock, another evidence of the loose way 
in which everything was done. However, the two ofificers agreed 
that they would endeavor to reach Scajaquada creek before the 
invaders, and hold it against them. 

Warren's regiment being ready first, he set out in advance. 
After marching about half-way he sent two scouts ahead. In a 
short time he heard firing at the creek, and as they did not re- 
turn he naturally concluded they were killed or taken. In fact, 
both were taken. Presently Capt. Millard, (afterwards Gen. 
Millard, of Lockport,) aide to Gen. Hall, galloped past, also in 
search of information. He, too, was saluted with a shower of 
bullets at the bridge, and captured. 

Warren halted till Churchill came up, when they agreed that, 
as the enemy had evidently got possession of the Scajaquada 
bridge, and of what was called the " Sailors' Battery," situated 
there, it would be impracticable to dislodge him in the darkness. 
They determined to take position at a small run, a little way be- 
low the village of Black Rock, and there oppose the further ad- 
vance of the British. Thither they accordingly returned, placed 
their single piece of artillery in the road, with a regiment on 
each side, and awaited developments. 

The enemy did not advance, but in the course of an hour or 
so Colonel Chapin arrived with a body of mounted men. His 
force is not described as mounted in Hall's report, but he must 
have obtained horses for at least a part of Captain Bull's com- 
pany. General Warren is positive that the force with which 
Chapin came to Black Rock was mounted, and Bull was cer- 
tainly present in the reconnoissance which followed. 

The irascible doctor furiously damned the two colonels and 
their men for not having driven away the British, and delivered 
General Hall's order that they should immediately make an at- 


tack. They replied with equal anger, and declared themselves 
as ready as he to meet the British. Chapin then led the way 
with his mounted men, in "column of twos ;" Warren followed 
with his battalion, and then Churchill with his. 

The men under Chapin and Bull advanced nearly to Scaja- 
quada creek, without receiving any warning of the whereabouts 
of the enemy. All was silent as death. Suddenly from the 
darkness flashed a volley of musketry, almost in the faces of 
the head of the column. Undisciplined cavalry are notoriously 
the poorest of all troops, and Chapin's men probably acted pre- 
cisely as any other mounted militia would have done, if led in 
column, in the darkness, against an unknown force of hostile in- 
fantry. They instantly broke and fled, rushing back through 
the ranks of Warren's footmen, who became utterly demoralized 
by the onslaught without receiving a shot. As the horsemen 
.stampeded through them, they broke up, some scattering into 
the woods and some retreating toward Buffalo. Finding him- 
self without men, Warren retired to the main battery, to endea- 
vor to rally some of the fugitives. Churchill, with at least a 
part of his men, remained below the village. 

When General Hall received news of this failure, he ordered 
Major Adams with his Genesee militia, and Chapin with such 
force as he could rally, to march against the enemy. This 
movement was equally futile ; in fact it is doubtful if the force 
got within reach of the enemy's guns. 

The general then ordered Colonel Blakeslie, with his Ontario 
county militia, to advance to the attack. This sending of suc- 
cessive small detachments to assail an unknown force in the 
darkness, instead of concentrating his forces in some good de- 
fensive position, shows clearly enough that General Hall had 
little idea of the proper course to be taken, but he seems to have 
labored zealously according to the best light he had. 

On the departure of Blakeslie, Hall gathered his remaining 
forces, of which McMahan's Chautauqua regiment constituted 
the main part, and took the hill road (Niagara street) for Black 
Rock. As he approached that village the day began to dawn, 
and he discovered the enemy's boats crossing the river in the 
direction of General Porter's house. A smaller number were 
crossing farther up, opposite the main battery. 


Blakeslie's command was ordered to meet the approaching 
force at the water's edge. That force consisted of the Royal 
Scots under Colonel Gordon, and was estimated at four hun- 
dred men. The invasion was under the general superintendence 
of Lieutenant-General Drummond, butthe troops were under the 
immediate command of Major-General Riall. The artillery in 
battery fired on them as they advanced, and Blakeslie's men 
opened fire when they landed. They returned it, and a battery 
on the other side sent shells and balls over their heads among 
the Americans. 

For half an hour the forest and riverside reechoed with the 
thunder of artillery and ceaseless rattle of small arms. All 
accounts agree that Blakeslie's men did the most of the fighting, 
and sustained the attack of the Royal Scots with considerable 
firmness. Had all the regiments been kept together and met 
the enemy at his landing, the result might have been far different. 

A portion of the Chautauqua county regiment took part in 
the fight, and Colonel Warren, having rallied a part of his com- 
mand at the battery, moved them down to the left of Blakeslie's 
regiment. Major Dudley was killed during the combat, and 
probably at this point. Besides the regiments just named, there 
were squads and single individuals in the fight from all the dif- 
ferent organizations. Regiments and companies had to a great 
extent dissolved, and the men who had not run away fought 
" on their own hook." 

Meanwhile the hostile force at Scajaquada creek, consisting 
of regulars and Indians, moved up the river, easily dispersing 
Churchill's meagre force, and marched against Blakeslie's right. 
It is not believed there were then over six hundred men in our 
ranks, and these, thus assailed on two sides, were entirely unable 
to maintain their ground. Large numbers were already scatter- 
ing through the woods toward home, when Gen. Hall ordered 
a retreat, hoping to make another stand at the edge of Buffalo. 

This, as might be supposed, was utterly hopeless ; once the 
men got to running, there were few that thought of anything 
else. In a few moments all were in utter rout. A part hurried 
toward Buffalo, others rushed along the " Guide-board road " 
(North street) to Hodge's tavern, and thence took the Wil- 
liam.sville road, while many fled through the woods without 



regard to roads of any kind. If the officers made any attempt to 
rally their men, they were entirely unsuccessful, and there was 
nothing for them to do but join in the general retreat. 

A few men kept fighting till the last, but they too were soon 
obliged to retire. The first meeting of two gentlemen, both sub- 
sequently presiding judges of the Erie County Common Pleas, 
was at the battle of Black Rock. Samuel Wilkeson, then in 
the ranks of the Chautauqua county regi,ment, was loading and 
discharging his musket as rapidly as possible, when he noticed 
a small, quiet man near by, who, he said, was firing faster than 
he was. Presently the stranger looked around and exclaimed : 
" Why, we are all alone ! " Wilkeson also cast his eyes about 
him, and sure enough all but a very few were rapidly retreating. 
The person whose acquaintance he thus made was Ebenezer 

Meanwhile, in Buffalo the women and children remained in a 
feeling of comparative security ; believing that the foe would 
surely be beaten back, as he had been before. 'Many, however, 
had packed up their scanty stores in preparation for a flight if 
necessary, and all had been anxiously listening to the fateful 
sounds of battle. All the while scattering fugitives were con- 
stantly rushing through the village, and striking out for Wil- 
liamsville, Willink or Hamburg. 

Then the noise of battle ceased, and the scattering runaways 
increased to a crowd. The Buffalonians of Hull's and Bull's 
companies came hurrying up to take care of their families. 
They declared that the Americans were whipped, that the Brit- 
ish were marching on the town, and most-terrible of all that the 
' Indians, the Indians, the INDIANS were coming. 

Then all was confusion and dismay. Teams were at a pre- 
mium. Horses, oxen, sleighs, sleds, wagons, carts — nearly every- 
thing that had feet, wheels or runners — were pressed into service. 
Some loaded up furniture, some contented themselves with sav- 
ing their scanty store of silver ware and similar valuables ; most 
took care to secure some provisions and bedding, threw them 
promiscuously into whatever vehicle they could obtain, and 
started. Children were half smothered with feather beds, babies 
alternated with loaves of bread. Many, who neither had nor 
could obtain teams, set forth on foot. Men, women and children 


by the score were seen hastening through the hght snow and 
half frozen mud, in the bitter morning air, up Main street or 
out Seneca, or toward " Pratt's Ferry." 

Dr. Chapin, on leaving for the field in the morning, told his 
two girls, one eleven and the other nine years old, that they 
must take care of themselves, directing them to go to his farm 
in Hamburg, ten miles distant. Their only protector was Hiram 
Pratt, then a member of the doctor's family and but thirteen 
years old. The girls and their young knight set out through 
the snow, and on passing the Pratt homestead Hiram per- 
suaded his sister Mary, eleven years old, to accompany them. 
At Smoke's creek they were overtaken by a wagon containing 
the Pratt family, and Mary was taken on board. Nothing, how- 
ever, could induce Hiram or the Chapin girls to accept of such 
assistance. They had started to do the heroic, and were bound 
to go through with it. And go through with it they did, mak- 
ing the whole ten miles on foot through the snow ; an amazing 
feat for two girls of that age. 

Capt. Hull, as has been mentioned, was a silversmith. His 
family gathered his small stock into a pillow case, and looked 
about for some means of transportation. Presently came a man 
on horseback, astride a side-saddle. He readily consented to 
take charge of their valuables, and fastened the pillow-case to 
the horn of his saddle. He rode off, and they saw no more of 
man, side-saddle nor spoons. 

The family of Samuel Pratt, Jr., were equally unfortunate 
with their silver. They had packed it up ready to carry away, 
but when they got into the wagon they forgot it. After going 
a little way, a girl whom Mrs. P. was bringing up, a kind of 
white Topsy, mentioned the loss and proposed to go back after 
it. This Mrs. Pratt forbade, but in a short time the girl slid 
quietly out of the hind end of the wagon and scampered back. 
She was never heard of by them again. Whether she confis- 
cated the silver and emigrated to Canada with the returning in- 
vaders, or fell beneath the tomahawk of the savage and per- 
ished in some burning building, none ever knew. 

Confusion was every moment worse confounded. " The In- 
dians, the Indians !" was on every tongue. A crowd of teams 
and footmen — and footwomen too — were hurrying up Main 


street, when suddenly the head of the column stopped and 
surged back on the rear. 

" The Indians " was the cry from the front ; " they are coming 
up the Guide-board road ; they are out at Hodge's." Back 
down Main street rolled the tide. Horses were urged to their 
utmost speed ; people on foot did their best to keep up, and 
even the oxen, under the persistent application of the lash, 
broke into an unwilling gallop, stumbling along, shaking their 
horns and wondering what strange frenzy had seized upon the 

Turning up Seneca street the crowd sped onward, some going 
straight to the Indian village, and thence across the reservation 
to Willink, others making for Pratt's ferry, and thence up the 
beach to Hamburg. The ferryman, James Johnson, then a 
young man of nineteen, now a venerable citizen of East Ham- 
burg, set several loads across, and then began to think it was 
time to leave, himself He was a Vermonter, only a few weeks 
in this part of the country, and found his experience extremely 

There was good reason for the sudden retreat of the Main 
street fugitives. While the main body of the enemy marched 
down Niagara street, the Indians on the left flank pressed up 
the " Guide-board road." Here it was that Job Hoysington, a 
resolute volunteer, said to his comrades, with whom he was re- 
treating, that he would have one more shot at the red-skins, and 
in spite of remonstrance waited for that purpose. He doubtless 
got a shot at them, for, when the snow went off in the spring, 
his rifle was found empty by his side ; but they got a shot at 
him, too, as was testified by a bullet through his brain, the 
work of which was completed by the tomahawk and scalping 
knife. His wife waited long for her husband's return, at their 
residence at the corner of Main and Utica streets, and finally 
set out on foot, with her children. She was soon overtaken by 
two cavalrymen, who took two of the little ones on their horses. 
For a long time she did not hear of them, but at length discov- 
ered them, one in Clarence and one in Genesee county. 

It was on the Guide-board road, too, that Alfred Hodge, flee- 
ing from the pursuing savages, and finding himself unable to 
outstrip them, jumped over the fence, where a turn in the road 


among the thick bushes hid him for a moment from their view, 
near the crossing of Delaware street, and flung himself down 
behind a log, across which he laid his cocked musket, determined 
to sell his life as dearly as possible, if discovered. The Indians 
came up, and two of them stood in the road but a short dis- 
tance from him, looking in every direction for the fugitive, but 
luckily the bushes and the log secured him from their eyes. 
His scalp must have felt somewhat loose at that time. At one 
time they stood in range, so he thought that he could disable 
them both at one shot, but before he could take aim they changed 
their position. 

These and other Indians in the vicinity fired several shots at 
the crowd of fugitives rushing up Main street, and are known to 
have wounded one if not more at that time. It was doubtless 
these shots that sent the frightened throng down Main street at 
double speed. But the fugitives exaggerated a little in saying 
that the savages had reached " Hodge's," for they soon fell back 
and closed in on the main body, giving Mr. Alfred Hodge a 
chance to hurry forward to his residence. 

William Hodge, Sr., brother of Alfred, and proprietor of the 
" brick tavern on the hill," had rejected the idea that the Amer- 
icans would be defeated, till the last moment, but when he saw 
the crowds of militiamen hurrying past he began to think it 
was time for him to move, and directed his hired man to hitch 
up the oxen, his only team, while he made some hasty arrange- 
ments in the house. He waited and waited, but no team ap- 
peared. The man had concluded that an ox-express was too 
slow for him, had put his own legs into rapid requisition, and 
was never heard of more. 

Unwilling to keep his family longer, Mr. H. persuaded the 
driver of an army baggage-wagon to halt a few minutes, flung 
in some bedding and provisions, lifted in his family and sent them 
forward. Then, determined to save all he could, he yoked up 
his cattle, piled into the cart as much household stuff as it 
would hold, and followed at a slower pace. It is probable that 
none of the enemy went that far up Main street that day, for 
when Mr. Hodge returned, the next day, not even the liquor in 
the cellar was disturbed. As he started his oxen up Main street 
the smoke was already rising from the burning village. 


For, meanwhile, events had come crowding thick and fast in 
the lower part of the town. As the enemy approached, some 
twenty or thirty men, apparently without any organization, 
manned an old twelve-pounder mounted on a pair of truck- 
wheels, at the junction of Main and Niagara streets. Soon the 
foe was seen emerging from the forest, on the latter street, less 
than a quarter of a mile away — a long column of disciplined 
soldiers, marching shoulder to shoulder, the rising sun bathing 
them in its golden light and tipping their bayonets with fire. 

Colonel Chapin by general consent exercised whatever author- 
ity any one could exercise, which was very little. Two or three 
shots were fired from the old twelve-pounder, and then it was 
dismounted. Chapin then went forward with a white handker- 
chief tied to his cane, as a flag of truce, asked a halt, which was 
granted, and began a parley. It was probably about this time 
that the Indians were called in from the Guide-board road. 
One account has it that Chapin succeeded in arranging some 
kind of a capitulation ; but this must be rejected, for, in a state- 
ment published by himself shortly after, he only speaks of 
" attempting a negotiation," claiming that while this was going 
on the people had a chance to escape ; which was probably true. 

Just about the time the cannon was dismounted some of 
our retreating soldiers had reached Pomeroy's stand, at the 
corner of Main and Seneca streets. Half famished after the 
fatigues of the night, they besought Pomeroy for something 
to eat. He told them there was plenty of bread in the kitchen 
and they rushed in, provided themselves, and pursued their re- 
treat, each with a piece of bread in one hand and his musket in 
the other. 

Presently they heard a cry from those ahead, " Run, boys, 
run !" Looking northward they saw a long line of Indians, 
with red bands on their heads, coming in single file at a rapid 
"jog-trot" down Washington street. It is needless to say that 
the injunction, "Run, boys," was strictly obeyed. The warriors, 
however, never swerved to the right nor the left, but kept on 
down to the Little Buffalo. Doubtless they had orders to sur- 
round the town. 

A few citizens remained to try to save their property ; among 
them Messrs. Walden, Pomeroy, Cook and Kaene. But their 


success was less than that of one woman. Nearly opposite the 
site of the Tifft House stood the new hotel built by Gamaliel 
St. John, whose death by drowning, a few months before, has 
been narrated. The widow had leased the hotel, though it was 
not yet occupied by the lessee, and had moved into a small 
house just north of it, near the corner of Main and Mohawk 
streets, also belonging to her husband's estate. Directly oppo- 
site was the residence of Asaph S. Bemis, who had married one 
of Mrs. St. John's daughters, who still survives, and from whom 
much of this sketch is derived. 

Close by Mr. Bemis' was the house occupied by Joshua Love- 
joy. Mr. Lovejoy was absent. On the approach of the enemy 
Mrs L. sent her young son, the late Henry Lovejoy, away across 
the fields to the woods, but remained at home herself, apparently 
reckless as to what might happen. 

Mrs. St. John, a very resolute woman, had been unwilling to 
believe the enemy would reach town, and had made no prepara- 
tion for leaving. Mr. Bemis, who had been sick, determined to 
take his wife out of the way, and hitched up his team for that 
purpose. His mother-in-law requested him to take her younger 
children, six in number, with him, while she and her two oldest 
daughters remained to pack up <her things. He did so, the ar- 
rangement being that he should take them out a mile or two, and 
return for the three women and the trunks. But before this ar- 
rangement could be carried out the enemy were in town. • 

The Indians came to Main street first, a considerable time be- 
fore the troops, which were drawn up near the corner of Morgan, 
Mohawk and Niagara streets, where Samuel Edsall had his tan- 
nery. The savages had apparently full license to do what they 
pleased in the way of plundering, though some British officers 
went ahead and had the casks of liquor stove in, to prevent their 
red allies from getting entirely beyond control. 

Eight or ten Indians came yelling directly toward Mrs. St. 
John's house. She waved her table cloth as a flag of truce, but 
they burst in, and immediately began ransacking the trunks, 
which stood ready packed for removal. There were four squaws 
in the company, and they, almost the first thing, possessed them- 
selves of the looking-glass, and stood grinning and jabbering at 
the red faces reflected there, with childish delight. Presently 


the ladies noticed that there was one Indian who took no part 
in the plundering, and they soon discovered that he could talk 
a little English. 

" What will be done with us ? " they anxiously inquired. 

"We no hurt you," he replied. "You be prisoner to the 
squaws. Perhaps they take you to the colonel." 

" Yes, yes," exclaimed the ladies, " take us to the colonel." 

He spoke to the squaws, and they set forth with their "prison- 
ers '' down Mohawk to the corner of Niagara, where the troops 
were drawn up, and where the ladies were taken before a British 
officer, probably Col. Elliott, the commander of the Indians. 
Mrs. St. John told him her condition — a widow, her husband and 
eldest son taken from her by a sad calamity, a large family of 
small children dependent upon her — and implored his protection. 

"Well," said the colonel, "what can I do for you; shall I take 
you to Canada .'' " 

"No, indeed," replied Mrs. S., "but save my house; don't let it 
be burned or plundered." 

After a moment's hesitation he assented, and ordered two sol- 
diers of the Royal Scots regiment to accompany the ladies home, 
and see that no farther harm was done. They did so, ordered 
the Indians away, and remained on guard until the British left 
in the afternoon. 

Soon after their return they saw Mrs. Lovejoy contending 
with an Indian about a shawl, he pulling at one end and she at 
the other. One of the St. John girls ran out into the road, call- 
ing to her for heaven's sake to let the Indian have it, and come 
over to their house where they had a guard. Mrs. L. rejected 
the offer, and continued the altercation with the savage.- 

Presently flames burst forth from the houses in the main part 
of the village, near the corner of Main and Seneca streets. A 
lieutenant with a squad of men went from house to house, ap- 
plying the torch. 

Dr. Johnson being absent, engaged in his duties as surgeon, 
Mrs. Johnson waited until her house was set on fire before she 
attempted to flee. She had a horse and sleigh but no wagon, 
and there was little sleighing. She harnessed the horse to the 
sleigh, put in the latter a feather bed, a looking-glass, and her 
infant daughter Mary, (now Mrs. Dr. Lord,) and set out for Wil- 


liamsville, leading the horse. About this time, near ten o'clock, 
Lieutenant Riddle, of the United States regular army, with 
some forty convalescents from the Williamsville hospital, and a 
six-pounder gun, came marching down Main street to drive out 
the enemy ! Mr. Walden went to meet him, convinced him of 
the hopelessness of such a course, and persuaded him to retire 
rather than needlessly exasperate the foe and his savage allies. 

A little later a regiment in brilliant uniform came at a rapid 
gait up Mohawk street, and wheeled down Main. 

"Ah!" exclaimed one of the guard at Mrs. St. John's, proudly, 
" see our Royal Scots." 

But the ladies, though they could not but notice the stalwart 
forms and splendid marching order of the soldiers, could not 
sympathize with the pride of their comrade. A little later they 
were all attracted to the windows by another altercation across 
the road. The same or another band of Indians were again en- 
deavoring to plunder Mrs. Lovejoy's house, and she was deter- 
mined to resist them. They saw her standing in the doorway 
barring the ingress of an angry savage. One account is that she 
had an axe, but this is not certain. Suddenly there was the 
flash of a knife, and, pierced to the heart, the woman fell on the 
threshold she had defended. She was dragged into the yard, 
and lay there for hours, her blood crimsoning the snow, and her 
long black hair trailing on the ground, for in this instance the 
savages forebore to scalp their victim. 

Meanwhile the burning went on. The flames rapidly de- 
voured the frail, wooden tenements of which the embryo city 
was then chiefly composed. Dr. Chapin's and Judge Walden's 
houses were spared on that day, and the burners respected the 
little dwelling before which lay the corpse of Mrs. Lovejoy. 
Both Chapin and Walden, however, were taken prisoners, and 
the former was detained in Canada over a year. Mr. Walden, 
who was less noted, managed to escape by quietly walking away 
from his captors, as if nothing was the matter, and still re- 
mained about the village. 

The large hotel of Mrs. St. John was set on fire by a squad of 
men, but, when they retired, the girls carried buckets of water 
and extinguished the flames. 

By three o'clock in the afternoon all of the lately flourishing 


village of Buffalo, save some six or eight structures, was smoul- 
dering in ashes. What few houses there were at Black Rock 
were likewise destroyed, and the enemy then retired across the 
river. After they left, Mr. Walden and the St. John girls car- 
ried Mrs. Lovejoy's corpse back into her house, and laid it on 
the bed. 

The foe took with them about ninety prisoners, of whom 
eleven were wounded. Forty of the ninety were from Blakes- 
lie's regiment. Besides these, a considerable number of Ameri- 
can wounded were able to escape — probably fifty or sixty. 

Forty or fifty were killed. Most of these lay on the field of 
battle, but some were scattered through the upper part of the 
village. They were stripped of their clothing, and lay all ghastly 
and white on the snow. On most of them the tomahawk and 
scalping-knife had supplemented the work of the bullet. 

Among the slain the officer of highest rank was Lieut.-Col. 
Boughton, of Avon. In Erie county, reckoning according to 
the present division of towns, the killed were Job Hoysington, 
John Roop, Samuel Holmes, John Trisket, James Nesbit, Rob- 
ert Franklin (colored), and Mr. Myers, of Buffalo; Robert Hil- 
land, Adam Lawfer, of Black Rock; Jacob Vantine, Jr., of 
Clarence; Moses Fenno, of Alden; Israel Reed, of Aurora; 
Newman Baker, Parley Moffat and Wm. Cheeseman, of Ham- 
burg and East Hamburg; Major Wm. C. Dudley, and probably 
Peter Hoffman, of Evans ; and Calvin Cary, of Boston. 

Moses Fenno was the earliest pioneer of Alden. Israel Reed 
was a middle-aged man, afflicted with asthma. He was on 
guard duty when the alarm sounded, but persuaded another to 
take his place, went forward to the fight and remained to the 
last. He then retreated, in company with the late Col. Emory, 
of Aurora. Pursued by the Indians, his asthmatic difficulty 
retarded his flight. For awhile Emory accommodated his pace 
to that of his comrade, but at length Reed declared he could 
go no further, sat down on a log and bade Emory go on. The 
latter did so. Reed was afterwards found where Emory left 
him, lying beside the log, his loaded musket by his side, show- 
ing that he had made no resistance, but with a bullet through 
his breast, his skull cloven by the relentless tomahawk, and his 
scalp removed by the vengeful knife. 


Calvin Gary, the oldest son of the pioneer, Deacon Richard 
Gary, though only twenty-one years of age, was a man of gigan- 
tic stature and herculean strength, weighing nearly three hun- 
dred pounds. Pursued by three Indians, he shot one dead, 
killed another with his clubbed musket, but was shot, toma- 
hawked and scalped by the third. His broken musket, which 
was found by his side and testified to his valor, is still preserved 
by his kindred. 

All the heavy guns of course fell into the hands of the enemy, 
as well as a considerable quantity of public stores. A few small 
vessels, lying near Black Rock, were also captured. 

The force by which all this injury was accomplished, accord- 
ing to the British official report, consisted of about a thousand 
men, detached from the Royal Scots regiment, the Eighth (or 
King's) regiment, the Forty-first, the Eighty-ninth, and the One 
Hundredth, besides from one to two hundred Indians. The en- 
emy suffered a loss of about thirty men killed and sixty 
wounded. Only two of his officers were wounded, and none 

That a thousand veteran soldiers should whip two thousand 
raw militia is not really very strange, yet there have been times ^ 
when militia, acting on the defensive, have done much better ' 
than that. The repulse of three or four hundred invaders the 
previous summer, by a force of militia and recruits hardly their 
equal in number, shows what may be done under favorable cir- 
cumstances and resolute leadership. 

General Hall, on reaching Williamsville, rallied two or three 
hundred of the fugitives, and collected reinforcements as rapidly 
as possible. There was, however, no further conflict with the 
enemy. Throughout this dismal epoch, the general seems to 
have acted with all possible devotion and energy, and to have 
failed only through the defection of his men and his own igno- 
rance of the military art. He did the best that in him lay. 

Gen. McGlure, on the other hand, did the w6rst that in him 
lay, and when he retired to his home was justly followed by the 
hatred and contempt of thousands. The destruction of the Ni- 
agara frontier is chargeable chiefly to the cruelty and cowardice 
of George McClure. 

The news of the disaster fled fast and far. The chief avenue 


of escape was up the Main street road to Williamsville and Ba- 
tavia. Next to that was the road up the beach to Hamburg. 
This was still the usual route, for teams, to all that part of the 
county south of the Buffalo reservation. 

On this occasion, however, many went on foot or horseback 
to the Indian village, and thence through the woods to the Big 
Tree road. 

During all that day (the 30th) the road through Williamsville 
and Clarence was crowded with a hurrying and heterogeneous 
multitude — bands of militiamen, families in sleighs, women driv- 
ing ox-sleds, men in wagons, cavalrymen on horseback, women 
on foot, bearing infants in their arms and attended by crying 
children — all animated by a single thought, to escape from the 
foe, and especially from the dreaded Indians. 

On the Big Tree road the scene was still more diversified, for 
in addition to the mixed multitude which poured along the 
northern route, was the whole body of Indians from the Buffalo 
reservation. The author of the history of the Holland Pur- 
chase, then a youth residing in Sheldon, Wyoming county, gives 
a vivid picture of the scene from personal recollection: 

"An ox-sled would come along bearing wounded soldiers, 
whose companions had perhaps pressed the slow team into their 
service ; another with the family of a settler, a few household 
goods that had been hustled upon it, and one, two or three wear- 
ied females from Buffalo, who had begged the privilege of a ride 
and the rest that it afforded ; then a remnant of some dispersed 
corps of militia, hugging as booty, as spoils of the vanquished, 
the arms they had neglected to use ; then squads and families of 
Indians, on foot and on ponies, the squaw with her papoose 
upon her back, and a bevy of juvenile Senecas in her train ; and 
all this is but a stinted programme of the scene that was pre- 
sented. Bread, meats and drinks soon vanished from the log 
taverns on the routes, and fleeing settlers divided their scanty 
stores with the almost famished that came from the frontiers." 

Numerous incidents, pathetic, tragic, and sometimes comic, 
occurred in this universal hegira. The news flew, apparently on 
the wings of the wind, and a^it flew people hitched up their 
horse or ox teams and fled eastward, long before all the fugitives 
from the western part of the county had arrived. Again and 
again it happened that a party of tired travelers from Buffalo 


or vicinity would at nightfall find a deserted house, with plenty 
of furniture and provisions, somewhere in Aurora, or Wales, or 
Newstead, and would go to keeping house in it. The owners 
had perhaps gone on, another day's journey, and had found near 
Batavia or Warsaw another abandoned residence, whose late oc- 
cupants had determined to put the Genesee river between them 
and the foe. Everybody wanted to get one stage farther east. 

Selfishess was the prevailing characteristic — at least few looked 
beyond their own families ; yet there were some exceptions. 
On the morning of the 30th a farmer from Hamburg, with a 
load of cheese for the Buffalo market, met the fugitives on the 
lake beach, a short distance from the village. He immediately 
flung his cheese right and left upon the ground, filled his sleigh 
with women and children and carried them as far as his home. 

I have mentioned how Hoysington's children were carried off 
by horsemen. Such aid by mounted men to children was quite 
frequent. Sometimes a horseman would take up two or three 
children ; sometimes a gallant cavalier would be seen with some 
weary woman seated behind him, and a child on the pommel of 
his saddle. 

The cases of separation of families were very numerous, and 
sometimes they were not united for several weeks. In Clarence 
a family hastily loaded some provision? and several children 
into a sleigh, and drove eastward at full speed. After traveling 
several miles they discovered that they had lost one of the chil- 
dren out of the hind end of the sleigh. Fortunately, on returning, 
it was found uninjured. 

Those who fled told the most dismal stories, making the mis- 
fortune even worse than the sad reality. The Indians were 
represented as just in the rear, tomahawking men, women and 
children indiscriminately. 

Even particular individuals were causelessly reported as killed, 
to their terror-stricken friends. A militiaman came to the log 
tavern of Colonel Warren, where his frightened wife was anx- 
iously awaiting news of her husband. He looked up and read 
aloud the name on the sign — "William Warren." 

"Well," said he "Colonel Warren is no more ; I myself stepped 
over his dead body ;" and then hurried on. In fact, the colonel 
was not even wounded. 


The fleeing Indians added to the dreadful rumors. During 
the war they kept runners going almost constantly between the 
Buffalo reservation and those of Cattaraugus and Allegany. One 
of their trails ran through Eden. These, when they could talk 
a little English, frequently enlivened the minds of the inhabi- 
tants along the route by terrible tales of the "British Indians." 
But after the burning of Buffalo they let loose all their powers 
of description. 

"Whoop!" cried the dusky runner, as he paused for an instant 
before the door of some log cabin, where stood a trembling 
matron surrounded by tow-headed children; "Whoop! Buffalo 
all burned up! British Indians coming! Kill white squaw! Kill 
papoose! Scalp 'em all! Burn up everything! W^hoop!" and away 
he bounded through the forest, leaving dismay and wailing in 
his track. 

Still, when it was found that the enemy had retired, curiosity 
induced many men from the nearest towns to visit the ruins. 
Others went to render what assistance they could, and still 
others, alas, to take advantage of the universal confusion and 
purloin whatever might have been left by the invader. A few 
went on the 31st of December, more on the ist of January. 

On the former day everything was quiet. On the latter, as 
the few remaining citizens and some from the country were star- 
ing at the ghastly ruins, a detachment of the enemy suddenly 
appeared, making prisoners of most of them ; among others of 
Benjamin Hodge, Jr., of Buffalo, and David Eddy, of Ham- 
burg. The former was kept prisoner throughout the war. 

They then fired all the remaining buildings, except the jail, 
which would not burn, Reese's blacksmith shop, and Mrs. St. 
John's cottage. On their coming to the latter, Mrs. S. and her 
daughters tried to persuade the commander not to burn the large 
hotel, which was still standing. He, however, drew from his 
pocket, and read, an order commanding him to burn every build- 
ing except " the one occupied by an old woman and two 
girls." So the big hotel went with the rest. The little house in 
which lay the remains of the murdered Mrs. Lovejoy was also 
fired, and the building and corpse were consumed together. 

As the detachment was about to depart, the commandant was 
informed that there were public stores at Hodge's tavern, on the 


hill. A squad of horsemen were sent thither to burn it. Benj. 
Hodge, Sr., and Keep, the Cold Spring blacksmith, were there, 
and ran on the enemy's approach. The sergeant in command 
called to them to stop, and Hodge did so. Keep ran on a short 
distance, when a carbine bullet pierced him and he fell — near 
where is now the south gate of Spring Abbey. 

The sergeant then entered, and, seeing a large quantity of 
merchandise stored there by merchants of the village, ordered 
the house set on fire, though assured that none of it was public 
property. After the building was well aflame he found a cask 
of old Jamaica, and was filling his canteen from it, when the cry 
was raised, "The Yankees are coming." 

A detachment of horse was seen crossing Scajaquada creek. 
The British hurriedly mounted, and rode off toward Buffalo. 
The new comers were some mounted Canadian volunteers, under 
Adjutant Tottman. He galloped up to the side of the rearmost 
of the retreating Britons, and was instantly shot dead. 

Close behind Tottman's force came Mr. Wilham Hodge, who, 
having returned from Harris' Hill the day before and found his 
property undisturbed, was flattering himself that he had escaped 
the general desolation. Now he saw his hopes shattered at a 
blow. His house was the last one burned, both in point of time 
and of distance from the village. After Tottman was shot, his 
men, dashing up, caught a -half-blood Indian setting fire to 
Hodge's barn. He was taken into Newstead where he was 
summarily disposed of. 

At this same time, a squad of Indians went to Major Miller's 
tavern, at Cold Spring. A Mrs. Martin, who was there, fed 
them and kept them in good humor until our horsemen ap- 
peared, when they escaped into the woods. This was the far- 
thest that any of the enemy penetrated into the country. 

A day or two after the second raid the people assembled and 
picked up the dead bodies, and brought them to Reese's black- 
smith shop. The number is variously stated, but the most care- 
ful account makes it forty-two killed, besides some who were 
not found, (Hoysington was not found until spring,) and some 
prominent persons like Col. Boughton, who were taken care of 
earlier. At the shop they were laid in rows, a ghastly display, 
all being frozen stiff, and most of them stripped, tomahawked 


and scalped. After those belonging in the vicinity had been 
taken away by their friends, the rest were deposited in a single 
large grave, in the old burying ground on Franklin Square, cov- 
ered only with boards, so they could be easily examined and 
taken away. 

Then quiet settled down on the destroyed village and almost 
deserted county. Even Mrs. St. John left, and when, a few days 
after the burning, James Sloan and Samuel Wilkeson came down 
the lake shore, the only living thing which they saw between 
Pratt's ferry and Cold Spring was a solitary cat wandering amid 
the blackened ruins. 

But the pioneers had plenty of energy and resolution, even if 
they were not very good soldiers. On the 6th of January, just 
a week after the main conflagration, William Hodge brought his 
family back, it being the first that returned. Pomeroy came 
immediately afterwards. That energetic personage raised the 
first building in the new village of Buffalo, on the same spot 
where he had been once mobbed and once burned out within 
thirteen months. Hodge's was the second. 

A few others came back and fitted up temporary shelters. A 
Mr. Allen occupied Mrs. St. John's cottage, and did a good 
business by keeping a house of entertainment for those who 
came to see the ruins. Soldiers were stationed in the village— I 
think a detachment of regulars — and as time wore on people 
began to feel more safe. But the winter was one of intense 
excitement and distress. Scarce a night passed without a rumor 
of an attack. Many times some of the inhabitants packed up 
their goods, ready to flee. Twice during the winter small squads 
of the enemy crossed the river, but were driven back by the sol- 
diers and citizens without much fighting. Most of the people 
who came back had nothing to live on, save what was issued to 
them by the commissary department of the army. 

The rest of the county was hardly less disturbed. There were 
houses to live in, and generally plenty to eat, but every blast 
that whistled mournfully through the forest reminded the excited 
people of the death-yell of the savage, and fast-succeeding 
rumors of invasion kept the whole population in a state of 
spasmodic terror. 

The Salisburys evidently made good their escape with their 

RELIEF. 265 

type as soon as they heard of the capture of Fort Niagara. On 
the i8th of January they issued their paper at Harris' Hill. 

That point became a kind of rendezvous for business men. 
Root & Boardman opened a law ofifice there, locating, according 
to their advertisement, "next door east of Harris' tavern and 
fourteen miles from Buffalo ruins." Le Couteulx went east 
after the destruction of his property, and Zenas Barker was ap- 
pointed county clerk, establishing his office at Harris' Hill. The 
nearest post-office, however, was at Williamsville. 

The suffering would have been even greater than it was, had 
not prompt measures of relief been taken by the public authori- 
ties and the citizens of more fortunate localities. The legisla- 
ture voted $40,000 in aid of the devastated district, besides 
$5,000 to the Tuscarora Indians, and $5,000 to residents of 
Canada driven out on account of their friendship for the United 
States. The city of Albany voted a thousand dollars, and the 
city of New York three thousand. The citizens of Canandai- 
gua appointed a committee of relief, who raised a considerable 
amount there, and sent communications soliciting aid to all the 
country eastward. They were promptly responded to, and lib- 
eral contributions raised throughout the State. With this aid, 
and that of the commissary department, and the assistance of 
personal friends, those who remained on the frontier managed 
to live through that woeful winter. 





Mars and liymen. — Soldiers' Graves. — Scott and Brown. — Elections and Appoint- 
ments. — Discipline at Buffalo. — The Death Penalty. — The Advance. — Cap- 
ture of Fort Erie. — Approaching Cliippewa. — An Indian Battle. — A Retreat. 
— A Dismounted Young Brave. — Victory. — Scalps. — "Hard Times." — Ad- 
vance to Fort George. — Return. — Lundy's Lane. — The Romance of War. — 
Retreat to Fort Erie. — The Death of the Spy. — "Battle of Conjockety 
Creek.'' — Assault on Fort Erie. — The Explosion. — Call for Volunteers. — The 
Response. — The Track through the Forest. — The Sortie. — Gallantry of the 
Volunteers. — Gen. Porter. — Quiet. — Peace. 

As spring approached, the frontier began to revive. More 
troops appeared, and their presence caused the paying out of 
considerable sums of money among the inhabitants. There 
was a ready market for produce at large prices. 

By March the people had sufficiently recovered from their 
fright to go to getting married. One number of the Gazette 
contained notices of two weddings at Williamsville, one at Har- 
ris' Hill, one in Clarence, one in Willink, and one in Concord — 
the longest list which had yet appeared in that paper. 

Williamsville was the rendezvous for the troops. There was a 
long row of barracks, parallel with the main street of that vil- 
lage and a short distance north of it, and others used as a hos- 
pital, a mile or so up the Eleven-Mile creek. Near these latter, 
and close beside the murmuring waters of the stream, rest sev- 
eral scores of soldiers who died in that hospital, all unknown, 
their almost imperceptible graves marked only by a row of ma- 
ples, long since planted by some reverent hand. 

Buffalo began to rise from its ashes. A brick-company was 
organized, and by the first of April several buildings had been 
erected, and contracts made for the erection of twenty or thirty 
more. By the 20th of that month several business men were 
there. The post-office was reopened, at first at Judge Grangers 
house and soon after at the villaere. 

On the loth of April there arrived on the frontier a stately 


young warrior, whose presence was already considered a har- 
binger of victory, and whose shoulders had lately been adorned 
by the epaulets of a brigadier-general. This was Winfield Scott, 
then thirty years old, and the beau ideal of a gallant soldier. Im- 
mediately afterwards came his superior officer, Major-General 
Brown, who had been rapidly advanced to the highest rank, on 
the strength of the vigor and skill he had shown as a commander 
at the foot of Lake Ontario. 

An election was held in this month, at which General Porter 
was again chosen to Congress on the Democratic ticket. Clar- 
ence cast two hundred and twenty-three votes, while the 
whole town of Buffalo only furnished a hundred and forty- 
seven. It had only been a year and four months since the last 
congressional election, which was doubtless owing to some 
change in the law regarding the time of holding. 

Jonas Williams was again elected to the assembly. The only 
supervisors known were Simeon Fillmore of Clarence, Lemuel 
Parmely of Eden, and Richard Smith of Hamburg. 

A new " commission of the peace " was issued by which Dan- 
iel Chapin, Charles Townsend and Oliver Forward of Buf- 
falo, Richard Smith of Hamburg, and Archibald S. Clarke of 
Clarence, were named as judges ; and Jonas Williams, James 
Cronk, John Beach and David Eddy as assistant justices. The 
justices of the peace named in the new commission were John 
Seeley, Philip M. Holmes, Joseph Hershey and Edward S. Stew- 
art, of Buffalo ; Daniel McCleary, Daniel Rawson, and Levi 
Brown, of Clarence ; Joshua HenshaW, Calvin Clifford, James 
Wolcott, and Ebenezer Holmes, of Willink ; Daniel Thurston 
and Amasa Smith, of Hamburg; Joseph Hanchett, of Concord; 
Asa Cary and John Hill, of Eden. Joseph Landon, Rowland 
Cotton and Henry Brothers were named as coroners. 

Many changes were also taking place among the military men 
of the county. A new commission, announcing promotions and 
appointments in Lt.-Col. Warren's regiment, (the 48th New York 
infantry,) designated Ezekiel Cook as first major, and Ezra Nott 
as second ; Lyman Blackmar, Peter Lewis, Frederick Richmond, 
Luther Colvin, Benjamin I. Clough, Timothy P'uller and James 
M. Stevens as captains ; Thomas Holmes, Aaron Salisbury, 
Dennis Riley, Moses Baker, William Austin, Oliver . Alger, 


Micah B. Crook and Elihu Rice as lieutenants ; and John M. 
Holmes, Otis Wheelock, Lathrop Francis, Sumner Warren, 
George Hamilton, Calvin Doolittle, Giles Briggs and Asa War- 
ren as ensigns. 

By the 20th of May there were three taverns in operation in 
Buffalo, four stores, three offices and twelve shops ; besides 
twenty-three houses, mostly occupied by families, and thirty or 
forty huts. Dr. Chapin, having been exchanged, got home about 
the first of June, and immediately began issuing statements. 

Bodies of regular troops and some volunteers continued to 
concentrate at Williamsville and Buffalo. Scott removed his 
headquarters to the latter place toward the last of May, where 
the troops were encamped amid the ruins. Great efforts were 
made to introduce rigid discipline. The men were under con- 
stant drill, and desertion was mercilessly punished. Among the 
reminiscences of that era, no scene appears to have been more 
vividly impressed on the minds of the relators than the one 
which was displayed near the present corner of Maryland and 
Sixth streets, on the 4th of June, 1814. 

Five men, convicted of desertion, knelt . with bandaged eyes 
and pinioned arms, each with an open coffin before him and a 
new-made grave behind him. Twenty paces in front stood a 
platoon of men, detailed to inflict the supreme penalty of mili- 
tary law. The whole army was drawn up on three sides of a 
hollow square, to witness the execution, the artillerymen stand- 
ing by their pieces with lighted matches, ready to suppress a 
possible mutiny, while Generals Brown, Scott and Ripley sat 
upon their horses, surrounded by their brilliant staffs, looking 
sternly on the scene. 

When the firing party did their deadly work, four men fell in 
their coffins or their graves, but one, a youth under twenty-one, 
was unhurt. He sprang up, wrenched loose his pinioned arms, 
and tore the bandage from his eyes. Two men advanced to ex- 
tinguish the last remains of life in those who had fallen. He 
supposed they were about to dispatch him, and fell fainting to 
the ground. He was taken away without further injury. 
Doubtless it had been determined to spare him on account of 
his youth, and therefore all of his supposed executioners had 
been furnished with unloaded muskets. 


The work of preparation went forward, though not very rap- 
idly. On the 28th of June a statement appeared in the Gazette 
that the rumors of an immediate advance which had been in 
circulation were not true, and that the transportation of the 
army was not ready. This was no doubt inserted by order, for 
on the 3d of July the advance began. 

Brown's force consisted of two brigades of regulars under 
Generals Scott and Ripley, and one of volunteers under General 
Porter. This was composed of five hundred Pennsylvanians, 
six hundred New York volunteers, all of whom had not arrived 
when the movement began, and nearly six hundred Indians. 

Six hundred was almost the entire strength of the Six Na- 
tions, and these had been gathered from all the reservations in 
Western New York. It is probable that the great age of Farm- 
er's Brother prevented him from crossing. Acting as a private 
in the ranks was Red Jacket, the principal civil leader of the 
Six Nations, who, notwithstanding the timidity usually attribu- 
ted to him, was unwilling to stay behind while his countrymen 
were winning glory on the field of carnage. Col. Robert Flem- 
ing was quartermaster of this peculiar battalion. 

Fort Erie was garrisoned by a hundred and seventy British 
soldiers. The main body of the enemy was at Chippewa, two 
miles above the Falls, and eighteen miles below the fort. 

On the 2d of July, Brown, Scott and Porter reconnoitred F'ort 
Erie and concerted the plan of attack. Ripley, with part of his 
brigade, was to embark in boats at Buffalo in the night, and 
land a mile up the lake from the fort. Scott with his brigade 
was to cross from Black Rock, and land a mile below Fort Erie, 
which, in the morning, both brigades were to invest and capture. 

Scott and Ripley both started at the time appointed, but, as 
in most military operations depending on concert of action be- 
tween separate corps, there was a difficulty not foreseen. Rip- 
ley's pilot was misled by a fog on the lake, and his command 
did not land until several hours past time. Scott, however, 
crossed promptly, and was able to invest the fort with his brig- 
ade alone. At sunrise the artillery and Indians crossed at the 
ferry, and after some parleying the fort surrendered, without 
awaiting an attack. 

The campaign along the Niagara, which followed, was out- 


side the bounds of Erie county. I shall, however, give a sketch 
of it for several reasons. It was participated in by many sol- 
diers of Erie county, in the ranks of the New York volun- 
teers, though I cannot ascertain whether they had any separ- 
ate organization. The Indians who took part in it on our side 
mostly belonged to the "oldest families" of Erie county. One 
of Brown's three brigades was commanded by the Erie county 
general, Peter B. Porter. And besides, my readers must be dis- 
gusted by the poor fighting done by the Americans on the Ni- 
agara during the previous years, and I want to take the taste 
out of their mouths. 

The afternoon of the 3d, Scott marched several miles down 
the Niagara, and on the morning of the 4th drove in the en- 
emy's advanced posts. He was followed by Brown and Ripley, 
and both brigades established themselves on the south side of 
Street's creek, two miles south of Chippewa. 

On their left, three fourths of a mile from the Niagara, was a 
dense and somewhat swampy forest on both sides of Street's 
creek, extending to within three fourths of a mile of Chippewa 
creek, which was bordered for that distance by a level, cleared 
plain. On the north side of that creek the British army lay in- 
trenched. The two armies were concealed from each other's 
sight by a narrow strip of woodland, reaching from the main 
forest to within a hundred yards of the river bank. 

During the night of the 4th the Americans were much an- 
noyed by Indians and Canadians lurking in the forest, who 
drove in their pickets and threatened their flanks. 

Late that night General Porter crossed the river with his In- 
dians and Pennsylvanians, and in the morning marched toward 
Chippewa. He was met on the road by General Brown, who 
spoke of the manner in which he had been annoyed by lurkers 
in the forest, and proposed that Porter should drive them out, 
declaring confidently that there would be no British regulars 
south of the Chippewa that day. Still, he said he would order 
Scott to occupy the open ground beyond Street's creek, in sup- 
port of Porter. The latter accepted the proposition of his chief, 
and at three o'clock started to put it in execution. 

The Indians assumed their usual full battle-dress — of matur- 
nip-line, breech-clout, moccasins, feathers and paint — and the 


war-chiefs then proceeded to elect a leader. Their choice fell 
on Captain Pollard, a veteran of Wyoming and many other 

Porter left two hundred of his Pennsylvanians in camp, think- 
ing their presence needless, and formed the other three hundred 
in one rank, on the open ground, half a mile south of Street's 
creek, their left resting on the forest. The whole five or six 
hundred Indians were also formed in one rank in the woods, 
their right reaching to the left of the whites. General Porter 
.stationed himself between the two wings of his command, with 
Captain Pollard on his left. He was also attended by two or 
three staff officers, by Hank Johnson the interpreter, and by 
several regular officers, who had volunteered to see the fun. Red 
Jacket was on the extreme left of the Indian line. A company 
of regular infantry followed as a reserve. The war chiefs took 
their places twenty yards in front of their braves, and a few 
scouts were sent still farther in advance. 

Then, at a given signal, the whole line moved forward, the 
whites marching steadily with shouldered arms on the plain, 
the naked Indians gliding through the forest with cat-like 
tread, their bodies bent forward, their rifles held ready for instant 
use, their feathers nodding at every step, their fierce eyes flash- 
ing in every direction. Suddenly one of the chiefs made a sig- 
nal, and the whole line of painted warriors sank to the ground, 
as quickly and as noiselessly as the sons of Clan Alpine at the 
command of Roderick Dhu. This maneuver was a part of 
their primitive tactics, and the chiefs rapidly assembled to 
consult over some report brought back by a scout. 

At another signal the warriors sprang up, and the feather- 
crested line again moved through the forest. The maneuver 
was repeated when the scouts brought word that the enemy was 
awaiting them on the north bank of Street's creek. General 
Porter was informed of this fact, and made some slight changes 
in his arrangements, and again the line advanced with increased 

As the Indians approached the creek, they received the fire of 
a force of British Indians and Canadians stationed there. They 
instantly raised a war-whoop that resounded far over the Ni- 
agara, and charged at the top of their speed. The foe at once 


fled. The Iroquois dashed through the little stream and bounded 
after them, whooping, yelling, shooting, cleaving skulls and tear- 
ing off scalps like so many demons. Many were overtaken, but 
few captured. Occasionally, however, a Seneca or Cayuga 
would seize an enemy, unwind his maturnip-linc, bind him with 
surprising quickness, and then go trotting back to the rear, hold- 
ing one end of the maturnip, as a man might lead a horse by 
the halter. 

Such speed and bottom were displayed by the Indians that 
neither the regulars nor volunteers were able to keep up with 
them. For more than a mile the pursuit was maintained, in 
the words of General Porter, "through scenes of frightful havoc." 
At length the Indians, who had got considerably in advance, 
emerged upon the open ground three quarters of a mile from 
Chippewa creek, when they were received with a tremendous 
fire from the greater part of the British regular army, drawn in 
line of battle on the plain. 

It looks as if General Riall had determined to attack the 
Americans, and had sent forward his light troops to bring on a 
battle, expecting probably that the whole American force would 
get exhausted in pursuit, and become an easy prey to his fresh 
battalions. The fact that the pursuit was carried on by the 
American light troops and Indians alone broke up, and in fact 
reversed, this programme. 

The warriors quickly fled from the destructive fire in front. 
General Porter, supposing that it came from the force they had 
been pursuing, rallied the greater part of them, formed them 
again on the left of his volunteers and moved forward to the 
edge of the wood. Again the long, red-coated battalions opened 
fire. The volunteers stood and exchanged two or three volleys 
with them, but when the enemy dashed forward with the bayonet 
Porter, seeing nothing of Scott with the supports, gave the order 
to retreat. Both whites and Indians fled in the greatest confusion. 

On came the red-coats at their utmost speed, supposing they 
had gained another easy victory, and that all that was necessary 
was to catch the runaways. The Indians, being the best runners 
and unencumbered with clothing, got ahead in the retreat as 
they had in the advance, but the whites did their best to keep 
up with them. The flight continued for a mile, pursuers as 


well as pursued becoming greatly disorganized, and the speed 
of the fugitives being accelerated by the constant bursting of 
shells from the enemy's artillery. 

Approaching Street's creek, Scott's brigade was found just 
crossing the bridge and forming line. They took up their posi- 
tion with the greatest coolness under the fire of the British artil- 
lery, but Porter claimed that, through the fault of either Scott or 
Brown, they were very much behind time. The former general 
was always celebrated for his promptness, and the fault, if there 
was one, was probably with Brown. Perhaps he didn't expect 
Porter's men to run so fast, either going or coming. 

The result, however, was as satisfactory as if this precipitate 
retreat had been planned to draw forward the foe. Ripley's bri- 
gade was at once sent off to the left, through the woods, to flank 
the enemy. The fugitives, as they ran, also bore to the west- 
ward, and Scott's fresh battalions came into line in perfect order, 
making somewhat merry over the haste of their red and white 

Some of the Indians had taken their sons, from twelve to six- 
teen years old, into battle, to initiate them in the business of 
war. One of these careful fathers was now seen running at his 
best speed, with his son on his shoulders. Just as he passed the 
left flank of Scott's brigade, near where the general and his staff 
sat on their horses, superintending the formation of the line, a 
shell burst directly over the head of the panting warrior. "Ugh," 
he exclaimed, in a voice of terror, bounding several feet from 
the ground. As he came down he fell to the earth, and the lad 
tumbled off. Springing up, the older Indian ran on at still greater 
speed than before, leaving the youngster to pick himself up and 
scamper away as best he might. The scene was greeted with a 
roar of laughter by the young officers around Scott, who re- 
buked them sharply for their levity. In a few moments they 
had plenty of serious work to occupy their attention. 

The Americans reserved their fire till the enemy was within 
fifty yards, when they poured in so deadly a volley that the Brit- 
ish instantly fell back. They were quickly rallied and led to 
the attack, but were again met with a terrific fire, under which 
they retreated in hopeless disorder. Scott pursued them beyond 
the strip of woods before mentioned, when they fled across the 


Chippewa into their intrenchments, and tore up the bridge. 
Scott's brigade then lay down on the open plain north of the 
woods. The battle, so far as the regulars were concerned, lasted 
only a few moments, but was one of the most decisive of the 
whole war. 

By order of Gen. Brown, who was in the midst of the fight, 
Porter took his two hundred reserve Pennsylvanians to the left 
of Scott's brigade, where they, too, lay down under the fire of 
the British artillery. After awhile Ripley's brigade came out of 
the woods, covered with mud, having had their march for noth- 
ing, as the enemy they had attempted to flank had run away 
before their flank could be reached. It not being deemed best 
to attack the foe in his intrenchments, directly in front, the 
Americans returned at nightfall to their encampment. 

The battle of Chippewa was the first, during the war of 1812, 
in which a large body of British regulars were defeated in the 
open field, and the Americans were immensely encouraged by 
it. Enlistment was thereafter much more rapid than before. 

The total British loss, as officially reported, was five hundred 
and fourteen, of whom between one and two hundred were 
found dead on the field by the victors. About two hundred and 
fifty were taken prisoners, mostly wounded. The Americans 
had about fifty killed, a hundred and forty wounded, and a few 
taken prisoners. The number of American regulars engaged 
was thirteen hundred. Gen. Porter estimated the British regu- 
lars in the fight at seventeen hundred, but I know not on what 
grounds, nor how correctly. 

It will be noticed that I am frequently referring to Gen. Por- 
ter as authority. In fact it is from his statement, in Stone's " Life 
of Red Jacket," that this description of the battle of Chippewa 
is principally derived. 

There was a somewhat amusing dispute as to whether the 
American or British Indians ran the fastest and farthest. It 
was asserted that our braves never stopped till they reached the 
Buff"alo reservation. This Porter declared to be a slander, in- 
sisting that the only reason why the Indians reached the rear 
before the whites was because they could run faster. It is certain 
that the main body of them remained with the army some two 
weeks after the battle. The Canadian Indians were so roughly 


handled that they fled at once to the head of Lake Ontario, and 
never after took any part in the war. 

The next morning Gen. Porter was horrified by the appear- 
ance at his tent of some twenty chiefs, each attended by a war- 
rior of his band, bearing the bloody scalps they had stripped 
from their fallen foes. They had been informed that a bounty 
would be paid them for every scalp they produced. The startled 
general told them that nothing of the kind would be done, 
whereupon the ghastly trophies were burned or flung into the 
Niagara. The story that they were to be paid for scalps was in 
direct contravention of the agreement under which they had en- 
tered the American service, yet it found ready credence among 
the Indians. This tends to show that the stories of the British 
paying a bounty for scalps in the Revolution may have been 
without foundation, even though believed by the savages 

After this grim episode, the chiefs obtained permission to 
visit the field and bring off their own dead. They brought in 
fifteen warriors, who were buried with the honors of war. 

They also found three of their enemies mortally wounded 
but not yet dead. They cut the throats of two of these, but, 
recognizing the third as an old acquaintance, they furnished him 
with a canteen of water and left him to die in peace. On their 
relating what they had done, an officer angrily reproached Cat- 
taraugus Hank for this brutality. 

" Well, Colonel," said Hank, casting down his eyes, and speak- 
ing with every appearance of contrition, " it does seem rather 
hard to kill men in that way, but then you must remember these 
are very hard times." 

Red Jacket is said to have played his part at Chippewa as 
well as any of his brethren. Yet even his admirers used to 
rally him about his timidity. One of them was heard chaffing 
him, declaring that he had given the sachem a scalp in order 
that he, too, might have a trophy to show, but that the latter 
was afraid to carry it. 

On the 7th of July, the six hundred volunteers from Western 
New York joined Porter's brigade. I have found no account of 
how they were organized, nor of the localities from which they 


On the 8th, Ripley's brigade and these New York volunteers 
forced a passage of the Chippewa, three miles up, quickly driv- 
ing back the force stationed there. General Riall, finding himr 
self flanked, destroyed his works and retreated rapidly to Queen- 
ston, and then to Fort George. Brown pursued and took up 
his quarters at Queenston, but did not deem his force sufficient 
either to assault or besiege the fortress. 

On the 1 6th, Porter's brigade skirmished around the fort, to 
give the engineers a chance to reconnoitre, but nothing came 
of it. 

At this time Red Jacket, who had all along opposed his coun- 
trymen's taking part in the war, proposed that messengers 
should be sent to the Mohawks, to concert a withdrawal of the 
Indians on both sides. General Brown consented, and two 
young chiefs were dispatched on a secret mission for that pur- 
pose. They were favorably received by some of the chiefs, but 
no formal arrangement was made. 

Meanwhile the British received reinforcements, and Brown de- 
termined to return to Fort Erie. Riall followed. Before arriv- 
ing at the Falls most of the Indians, through the management 
of Red Jacket, obtained permission to retire to their homes, 
agreeing to return if the British Indians should again take the 
field. But the latter were perfectly satisfied with that terrible 
drubbing in the Chippewa woods, and never again appeared in 
arms against the Americans. Nevertheless, some forty or fifty 
of our Indians remained with the army throughout the campaign. 

On the 25th of July, Brown's army encamped near Chippewa 
creek. Riall was pressing so closely on the American rear that 
Brown sent back Scott's brigade to check him. Scott met the 
enemy at Bridgewater, just below the Falls. Sending back 
word to his superior, the impetuous Virginian led his columns 
to the attack. For an hour a desperate battle raged between 
Scott's single brigade and Riall's army, neither gaining any 
decided advantage. 

At the end of that time, and but a little before night. Brown 
arrived with the brigades of Ripley and Porter. Determining 
to interpose a new line and disengage Scott's exhausted men, 
he ordered forward the two fresh brigades. The enemy's line 
was then near "Lundy's Lane," a road running at right angles 


with the river, which it reaches a short distance below the Falls. 
His artillery was on a piece of rising ground, which was the key 
of the position. Colonel Miller, commanding a regiment of. 
infantry, was asked by Brown if he could capture it. "I can 
try, sir," was the memorable response of the gallant officer. 

Though the regiment which should have supported Miller's 
gave way, yet the latter moved steadily up the hill. Increasing 
its pace it swept forward, while its ranks were depleted at every 
step, and after a brief but desperate struggle carried the heights, 
and captured the hostile cannon at the point of the bayonet. 
At the same time Major Jessup's regiment drove back a part 
of the enemy's infantry, capturing Major-Gencral Riall, their 
commander, and when General Ripley led forward his reserve 
regiment the British fell back and disappeared from the field. 

It was now eight o'clock and entirely dark. In a short time 
the enemy rallied and attempted to regain his lost artillery. 
Seldom in all the annals of war has a conflict been fought under 
more strange and romantic circumstances. The darkness of 
night was over all the combatants. A little way to the north- 
eastward rolled and roared the greatest cataract in the world, 
the wonderful Niagara. Its thunders, subdued yet distinct, could 
be heard whenever the cannon were silent. And there, in the 
darkness, upon that solitary hillside, within sound of that 
mighty avalanche of waters, the soldiers of the young republic, 
flushed with the triumph which had given them their enemy's 
battle-ground, and cannon, and commander, calmly awaited the 
onslaught of England's defeated but not disheartened veterans. 

At half past eight the Americans saw the darkness turning 
red far down the slope, and soon in the gloom were dimly out- 
lined the advancing battalions of the foe. The red line came 
swiftly, silently, and gallantly up the hill, beneath the swaying 
banners of St. George, and all the while the subdued roar of 
Niagara was rolling gently over the field. 

Suddenly the American cannon and small-arms lighted up the 
scene with their angry glare, their voices drowning the noise of 
the cataract. The red battalions were torn asunder, and the 
hillside strewed with dead and dying men, but the line closed 
up and advanced still more rapidly, their fire rivaling that of the 
Americans, and both turning the night into deadly day. 


Presently the assailants ceased firing, and then with thunder- 
ing cheers and leveled bayonets rushed forward to the charge. 
But the American grape and canister made terrible havoc in 
their ranks, the musketry of Scott and Ripley mowed them 
down by the score, and the sharp-cracking rifles of Porter's vol- 
unteers did their work with deadly discrimination. More and 
more the assailants wavered, and when the Americans in turn 
charged bayonets the whole British line fled at their utmost 

The regulars followed but a short distance, being held in hand 
by their officers, who had no idea of plunging through the dark- 
ness against a possible reserve. But the volunteers chased the 
enemy down the slope, and captured a considerable number bf 
prisoners. Then the Americans reformed their lines, and then 
again the murmur of the cataract held sway over the field. 

Twice within the next hour the British attempted to retake 
their cannon, and both times the result was the same as that of 
the first efibrt. For two hours afterwards the Americans re- 
mained in line, awaiting another onslaught of the foe, but the 
latter made no further attempt. 

Having no extra teams, the victors were unable to take away 
the captured guns, with one exception. Accordingly, with this 
single trophy, with their own wounded, and with a hundred and 
sixty-nine prisoners, including Gen. Riall, the Americans at 
midnight returned to their encampment on the Chippewa. 
Their loss was a hundred and seventy-one killed, four hundred 
and forty-nine wounded, and a hundred and seventeen missing. 
Both Brown and Scott were wounded, the latter severely, and 
both were removed to Buffalo. 

One or two British writers have claimed a technical victory at 
Lundy's Lane, because the Americans finally left the field at 
midnight, but they do not dispute the facts above set forth, 
which are vouched for by Generals Brown, Porter and Ripley in 
a public declaration, viz., the capture of the English cannon, 
the attempt to recapture them, the utter failure, and the two 
hours' peaceable possession of the field by the Americans, be- 
fore leaving it. 

The real condition of the two armies is plainly shown by the 
fact that the next day the enemy allowed Ripley to burn the 


mills, barracks and bridge at Bridgewater, without molestation. 
The Americans then pursued their untroubled march to Fort 

On their arrival, the most of the volunteers went home, hav- 
ing served the remarkably long time of three or four months. 
Nevertheless they had done good service, and were entitled to a 
rest according to the views of volunteering then in vogue. The 
regulars had been reduced by various casualties to some fifteen 
hundred men. The British on the other hand had received re- 
inforcements, and felt themselves strong enough to besiege the 
fort, if fort it could be called, which was rather a partially in- 
trenched encampment. 

Before narrating the renowned scenes around Fort Erie, I will 
mention a somewhat peculiar event on this side. Though the 
Senecas, Cayugas, etc., had mostly returned home, yet they were 
all friendly to the United States, and willing to prove it in any 
way which did not involve the risk of running against British bat- 
talions, while chasing Mohawks. Captain Worth, (afterwards the 
celebrated General Worth,) then a member of Scott's staff, was, 
like his chief, wounded at Lundy's Lane. His affable manners 
and dashing valor had made him a great favorite of the Indians, 
and when he was brought wounded to Landon's hotel they vied 
with each other in rendering him attention. The veteran Far- 
mer's Brother, in particular, was in the habit of watching for 
hours by the captain's bedside. 

On the 31st of July a Chippewa Indian came across the river, 
claiming to be a deserter. Individual desertion is a very un- 
common crime among Indians, (though tribes sometimes change 
sides in a body,) and his story was received with suspicion by 
the Senecas. Nevertheless he was allowed to circulate freely 
among them, and a bottle of whisky being procured he was in- 
vited to share it. 

Warmed by the vivifying fluid, the Senecas began recounting 
their valiant deeds, especially boasting of the red-coats and 
British Indians they had slain at Chippewa. The new comer, 
forgetful of the part he had assumed, began to brag of the great 
deeds he had done, holding up his fingers to indicate how many 
Yankees and Yankee Indians he had made to bite the dust, 
especially mentioning " Twenty Canoes," a noted chief and friend 


of Farmer's Brother. The wrathful Senecas at once gathered 
around and denounced him as a spy. It is said, I know not 
how truly, that he then confessed that he had come in that 

They were on Main street, close to Landon's, and the angry 
altercation reached the ears of Farmer's Brother, who was then 
at the bedside of Captain Worth. The old chief immediately 
joined the assemblage, and inquired the cause. He was told 
of the pretended deserter's offense, and particularly of his 
boasting over the slaughter of " Twenty Canoes." By this time 
Capt. Pollard, Major Berry and other chiefs had joined the 
crowd, and several whites were standing by as spectators. 

On learning the facts, Farmer's Brother grasped his war-club, 
walked up to the unfortunate Chippewa, and felled him to the 
earth with a blowwhich broke the club into splinters. It was 
probably a fancy, full-dress war-club, not intended for such 
severe service. For a moment the Chippewa lay senseless, then 
suddenly sprang up, with the blood streaming down his face, 
burst through the crowd of startled Senecas and bounded away. 
Not a man followed him, but several cried out, (in their own 
tongue, of course) : 

" Ho ! coward ! You dare not stay and be punished ! Coward ! 
coward !" 

The Chippewa stopped, slowly retraced his steps into the 
midst of his enemies, drew his blanket over his head, as Cassar 
veiled his face with his toga, and lay down beside the wall of 
one of the burned buildings. 

A brief consultation took place among the chiefs. Some of 
the whites who had gathered around manifested a disposition 
to interfere, but were sternly informed that that was an Indian 
trial, and the court must not be disturbed. 

Presently a rifle was handed to Farmer's Brother, who walked 
up to the recumbent Chippewa and said : 

"Here are my rifle, my tomahawk, and my scalping-knife ; 
take your choice by which you will die." The spy muttered his 
preference for the rifle. 

"And where will you be shot.?" continued the unconscious 
imitator of the mercy of Richard the Third. The condemned 
man put his hand to his heart, the chieftain placed the muzzle 


of his rifle at the point indicated and pulled the trigger. With 
one convulsive movement the spy expired. Four young Senecas 
picked up the corpse, carried it to the edge of the wood a quar- 
ter of a mile east of Main street, flung it down and left it un- 
buried, to be devoured by the wild animals of the forest. 

On the other side of the river, General Drummond's army for 
two weeks steadily worked their way toward the American 
defenses. These consisted principally of two stone mess-houses 
and a bastion, known as " Old Fort Erie," a short distance east 
of the river bank, and a natural mound, half a mile farther 
south and near the lake, which was surmounted with breastworks 
and cannon and called "Towson's Battery." Between the old 
fort and the battery ran a parapet, and another from the old 
fort eastward to the river. On both the north and west a dense 
forest came within sixty rods of the American works. The 
British erected batteries in the woods on the north, each one 
farther south than its predecessor, and then in the night chopped 
out openings through which their cannon could play on our 

At this time the commander at Fort Erie was in the habit of 
sending across a battalion of regular riflemen every night, to 
guard the bridge over Scajaquada creek, who returned each 
morning to the fort. About the lOth of August a heavy British 
force crossed the river at night, at some point below the Sca- 
jaquada, and just before daylight they attempted to force their 
way the latter stream. Their objective point was doubt- 
less the public stores at Black Rock and Buffalo. 

Being opposed by the riflemen before mentioned, under Ma- 
jor Lodowick Morgan, there ensued a fight of some importance, 
of which old men sometimes speak as the "Battle of Conjockety 
Creek," but of which I have found no printed record. Even 
the Bufi"alo Gazette of the day was silent regarding it, though 
it afterwards alluded to Major Morgan as "the hero of Con- 

The planks of the bridge had been taken up, and the riflemen 
lay in wait on the south side. When the enemy's column came 
up, Morgan's men opened a destructive fire. The English pressed 
forward so boldly that some of them, when shot, fell into the 
creek and were swept down the Niagara. They were compelled 



to fall back, but again and again they repeated the attempt, 
and every time they were repulsed with loss. 

A body of militia, under Colonels Swift and Warren, were 
placed on the right of the regulars, and prevented the enemy 
from crossing farther up the creek. Several deserters came 
over to our forces, having thrown away their weapons and taken 
off their red coats, which they carried rolled up under their arms. 
They reported the enemy's force at seventeen hundred, but that 
was probably an exaggeration. 

After a conflict lasting several hours the enemy retreated, 
having suffered severely in the fight. The Americans had eight 
men wounded. 

Early in the morning of the 15th of August, 18 14, the Eng- 
lish attempted to carry Fort Erie by storm, under cover of the 
darkness. At half past two o'clock, a column of a thousand to 
fifteen hundred men moved from the woods on the west against 
Towson's battery. Though received with a terrific fire they 
pressed forward, but were at length stopped within a few yards 
of the American lines. They retreated in confusion, and no 
further attempt was made at that point. 

Notwithstanding the strength of this attack it was perhaps 
partly in the nature of a feint, for immediately afterwards two 
other columns issued from the forest on the north. One sought 
to force its way up along the river bank, but was easily repulsed. 
The other, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond, advanced 
against the main bastion. It was defended by several heavy guns 
and field-pieces, by the Ninth United States infantry, and by 
one company each of New York and Pennsylvania volunteers. 

Received with a withering discharge of cannon and musketry, 
Drummond's right and left were driven back. His center, how- 
ever, ascended the parapet, but were finally repulsed with dread- 
ful carnage. 

Again Drummond led his men to the charge and again they 
were repulsed. 

A third time the undaunted Englishmen advanced over ground 
strewn thick with the bodies of their brethren, in the face of a 
sheet of flame from the walls of the bastion, and a third time 
they were driven back with terrible loss. This would have sat- 
isfied most men of any nation, and one cannot refrain from a 


tribute to English valor of the most desperate kind, when he 
learns that Drummond again rallied his men, led them a fourth 
time over that pathway of death, mounted the parapet in spite 
of the volleying flames which enveloped it, and actually captured 
the bastion at the point of the bayonet. 

Many American officers were killed in this terrible struggle. 
Drummond was as fierce as he was brave, and was frequently 
heard crying to his men, "Give the damned Yankees no quar- 
ter." But even in the moment of apparent victory he met his 
fate — a shot from one of the last of the retreating Americans 
laying him dead upon the ground. 

Reinforcements were promptly sent to the endangered locality 
by Gens. Ripley and Porter. A detachment of riflemen attacked 
the British in the bastion but were repulsed. Another and larger 
force repeated the attack, but also failed. 

The Americans prepared for a third charge, and two batteries 
of artillery were playing upon the heroic band of Britons. Sud- 
denly the whole scene was lighted up by a vast column of flame, 
the earth shook to the water's edge, the ear was deafened by a 
fearful sound which reechoed far over the river. A large amount 
of cartridges, stored in one of the mess-houses adjoining the 
bastion, had been reached by a cannon-ball and exploded. One 
instant the fortress, the forest, the river, the dead, the dying and 
the maddened living, were revealed by that fearful glare — the 
next all was enveloped in darkness, while the shrieks of hun- 
dreds of Britons, in more terrible agony than even the soldier 
often suffers, pierced the murky and sulphurous air. 

The Americans saw their opportunity and redoubled the fire 
of their artillery. For a few moments the conquerors of the 
bastion maintained their position, but half their number, includ- 
ing most of their officers, were killed or wounded, their com- 
mander was slain, and they were dazed and overwhelmed by 
the calamity that had so unexpectedly befallen them. After a 
few volleys they fled in utter confusion to the friendly forest. 

As they went out of the bastion the Americans dashed in, 
snatching a hundred and eighty-six prisoners from the rear of 
the flying foe. Besides these there remained on the ground 
they had so valiantly contested two hundred and twenty-one 
English dead, and a hundred and seventy-four wounded, nearly 


all in and around that single bastion. Besides, there were the 
wounded who were carried away by their comrades, including 
nearly all who fell in the other two columns. The Americans 
had twenty-six killed and ninety-two wounded. Seldom has 
there been a more gallant attack, and seldom a more disastrous 

During the fight the most intense anxiety prevailed on this 
side. The tremendous cannonade a little after midnight told- 
plainly enough that an attack was being made. Nearly every 
human being who resided among the ruins of Buffalo and Black 
Rock, and many in the country around, were up and watching. 
All expected that if the fort should be captured the enemy 
would immediately cross, and the horrors of the previous winter 
would be repeated. Many packed up and prepared for instant 

When the explosion came, the shock startled even the war- 
seasoned inhabitants of Buffalo. Some thought the British had 
captured the fort and blown it up, others imagined that the Am- 
ericans had penetrated to the British camp and blown that up ; 
and all awaited the coming of morn with nerves strung to their 
utmost tension. It was soon daylight, when boats crossed the 
river from the fort, and the news of another American victory 
was soon scattered far and wide through the country. 

A day or two afterwards the wounded prisoners were sent to 
the hospital at VVilliamsville, and the unwounded to the depot 
of prisoners near Albany. Mr. William Hodge relates that when 
the wagons filled with blistered, blackened men halted near his 
father's house, they begged for liquor to drown their pain, but 
some of the unhurt, who marched on foot, were saucy enough. 
Looking at the brick house rising on the ruins of the former 
one, they declared they would burn it again within a year. 
They could not, however, have been very anxious to escape, for 
they were escorted by only a very small guard of militia. The 
late James Wood, of Wales, was one of the guard. Many of 
the prisoners were Highlanders, of the Glengarry regiment. 

Having failed to carry the fort by assault, the British settled 
down to a regular siege. Closer and closer their lines were 
drawn and their batteries erected, the dense forest affording 
every facility for uninterrupted approach. Reinforcements con- 


stantly arrived at the English camp, while not a solitary regular 
soldier was added to the constantly diminishing force of the 
Americans. By the latter part of August their case had become 
so desperate that Gov. Tompkins called out all the militia west 
of the Genesee, en masse, and ordered them to Buffalo. They 
are said by Turner to have responded with great alacrity. 

Arriving at Buffalo, the officers were first assembled, and Gen. 
Porter called on them to volunteer to cross the river. There 
was considerable hanging back, but the general made another 
speech, and under his stinging words most of the officers volun- 
teered. The men were then called on to follow their example, 
and a force of about fifteen hundred was raised. The 48th 
regiment furnished one company. Col. Warren volunteered and 
crossed the river, but was sent back with other supernumerary 
officers, and placed in command of the militia remaining at 

The volunteers were conveyed across the river at night, about 
the loth of September, and encamped on the lake shore above 
Towson's battery, behind a sod breast-work hastily erected by 
themselves. They were commanded by General Porter, who 
bivouacked in their midst, under whom was General Daniel 
Davis, of Le Roy. General Brown had resumed command of the 
whole American force. 

At this time the enemy was divided into three brigades of 
fourteen or fifteen hundred men each, one of which was kept 
on duty in their batteries every three days, while the other two 
remained at the main camp, on a farm a mile and a half west of 
the fort. 

Immediately after the arrival of the volunteers, a plan was 
concerted to break in on the enemy's operations by a sortie. 
The British had opened two batteries, and were nearly ready to 
unmask another, still nearer and in a more dangerous position. 
This was called "Battery No. Three," the one next north "No. 
Two," and the farthest one "No. One." It was determined to 
make an attack on the 17th of September, before Battery 
No. Three could be completed. 

On the 1 6th, Majors Fraser and Riddle, both officers of the 
regular army acting as aids to General Porter, each followed by 
a hundred men, fifty of each party being armed and fifty pro- 


vided with axes, proceeded from the camp of the volunteers, by 
a circuitous route through the woods, to within a short distance 
of Battery No. Three. Thence each detachment cut out the un- 
derbrush so as to make a track back to camp over the swampy 
ground, curving where necessary to avoid the most miry 
places. The work was accomplished without the British having 
the slightest suspicion of what was going on. This was the 
most difficult part of the whole enterprise, and its being accom- 
plished without the enemy's hearing it must be partly attributed 
to good fortune. 

In the forenoon of the 17th the whole of the volunteers were 
paraded, the enterprise was revealed to them, and a hand-bill 
was read, announcing the glorious victories won on Lake Cham- 
plain and at Plattsburg a few days before. The news was joy- 
fully received and the sortie enthusiastically welcomed. The 
volunteers not being uniformed, every one was required to lay 
aside his hat or cap and wear on his head a red handkerchief, 
or a piece of red cloth which was furnished. Not an officer nor 
man wore any other head-gear, except General Porter. 

At noon that commander led forth the principal attacking 
body from the volunteer camp. The advance consisted of two 
hundred volunteers under Colonel Gibson. Behind them came 
the column designed for storming the batteries, composed of 
four hundred regulars followed by five hundred volunteers, all 
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wood. These took the right 
hand track cut out the day before. Another column, of nearly 
the same strength, mostly volunteers, under General Davis, 
intended to hold the enemy's reinforcements in check and co- 
operate in the attack, took the left hand road. 

At the same time a body of regulars, under General Miller, 
was concealed in a ravine near the northwest corner of the in- 
trenchments, prepared to attack in front at the proper time. 
The rest of the troops were held in reserve under General 

Just after the main column started it began to rain, and con- 
tinued to do so throughout the afternoon. The march was 
necessarily slow along the swampy, winding pathway, and had 
it not been for the underbrushed tracks the columns would 
probably have lost their way or been delayed till nightfall. 


At nearly three o'clock Porter's command arrived at the end 
of the track, within a few rods of Battery No. Three, entirely 
unsuspected by its occupants. The final arrangements being 
made, they moved on, and in a few moments emerged upon the 
astonished workers and their guard. With a tremendous cheer; 
which was distinctly heard across the river, the men rushed for- 
ward, and the whole force in the battery, thoroughly surprised 
and overwhelmed by numbers, at once surrendered, without 
hardly firing a shot. 

This attack was the signal for the advance of Miller's regu- 
lars, who sprang out of their ravine and hurried forward, direct- 
ing their steps toward Battery No. Two. Leaving a detachment 
to spike and dismount the captured cannon, both of Porter's 
columns dashed forward toward the same object, Gen. Davis 
leading his volunteers and cooperating closely with Wood. 
They arrived at the same time as Miller. They were received 
with a heavy fire, but the three commands combined and car- 
ried the battery at the point of the bayonet. 

Leaving another party to spike and dismount cannon, the 
united force pressed forward toward Battery No. One. But by 
this time the whole British army was alarmed, and reinforce- 
ments were rapidly arriving. Nevertheless the Americans at- 
tacked and captured Battery No. One, after a severe conflict. 

How gallantly they were led is shown by the fact that all 
of Porter's principal commanders were shot down — Gibson at 
Battery No. Two, Wood while approaching No. One, and Davis 
while gallantly mounting a parapet between the two batteries 
at the head of his men. In the last struggle, too, Gen. Porter 
himself was slightly wounded by a sword-cut on the hand, and 
temporarily taken prisoner, but was immediately rescued by his 
own men. 

Of course, in a sortie the assailants are not expected to hold 
the conquered ground. The work in this case had been as 
completely done as in any sortie ever made, and after Battery 
No. One had been captured a retreat was ordered to the fort, 
where the victorious troops arrived just before sunset. 

The loss of the Americans was seventy-nine killed and two 
hundred and fourteen wounded ; very few, if any, captured. 
Four hundred British were taken prisoners, a large number 


killed and wounded, and what was far more important all the re- 
sults of nearly two months' labor were entirely overthrown. So 
completely were their plans destroyed by this brilliant assault 
that only four days afterwards Gen. Drummond raised the siege, 
and retired down the Niagara. 

After the enemy retreated the volunteers were dismissed with 
the thanks of their commanders, having saved the American 
army from losing its last hold on the western side of the 

The relief of Fort Erie was one of the most skillfully planned 
and gallantly executed sorties ever made. Gen. Napier, the 
celebrated British soldier and military historian, mentions it as 
one of the very few cases in which a single sortie had compelled 
the raising of a siege. 

' It was also the first really important service performed by the 
kind of soldier whose renown has since become world-wide, the 
American volunteer. The previous efiforts of the volunteers 
had been very desultory, and, though often showing distinguished 
courage, they had not before borne a principal part in any bat- 
tle. At this sortie, however, they were the chief actors, and 
then began that long scries of brilliant services so well known 
to every American. A few months later the battle of New Or- 
leans was won by their valor. During the Mexican war the sys- 
tem of volunteering was thoroughly matured, and during the 
war for the Union the worth of the American volunteer was 
tested on a hundred fields. 

Very high credit was given to General Porter, both for his 
eloquence in engaging the volunteers and his skill and valor in 
leading them. The press sounded his praises, the citizens of 
Batavia tendered him a dinner, the governor breveted him a 
major-general, and Congress voted him a gold medal — he being, 
I think, the only officer of volunteers to whom that honor was 
awarded during the war of 1 8 1 2. 

These guerdons were justly his due on account of the distin- 
guished services then known to the public. In addition, there 
is little doubt that he is entitled to the credit of originating and 
planning the sortie of Fort Erie. For several days previous he 
had been holding frequent interviews with General Brown, and 
also with two officers of engineers, the object of which was con- 


cealed from his staff. He afterwards informed Col. Wm. A. 
Bird that the secret interviews with General Brown and the en- 
gineer officers were for the purpose of planning the sortie, and 
that Brown hesitated and requested Porter to draw a plan in 
writing, which he did, leaving the paper with Brown. 

It is certain that it was Porter's aides who superintended the 
cutting out of the roads over which the main columns of attack 
passed, and it was Porter who was chosen to command that 
force, though composed of both regulars and volunteers, and 
though there were two or more regular generals under Brown at 
the fort. There was no probable reason why he should have been 
charged with the execution of the attack, except because he had 
planned it. Of course it was sanctioned by Brown, and the latter 
is fairly entitled to the credit belonging to every commander un- 
der whose orders a successful movement is carried out, but there 
is also especial credit due to the originator of a good plan, and 
I have little doubt that in this case that honor belongs to Peter 
B. Porter. 

But the much higher honor is his of being the first distin- 
guished leader of American volunteers against a disciplined foe. 
If he cannot be called the father of the volunteer system, he 
was certainly its principal pioneer. 

The raising of the siege of Fort Erie was substantially the 
close of the war on the Niagara frontier. A few unimportant 
skirmishes took place, but nothing that need be recorded here. 
All the troops except a small guard were withdrawn from Fort 
Erie to Buffalo. It was known during the winter that commis- 
sioners were trying to negotiate a peace at Ghent, and there was 
a universal desire for their success. In this vicinity, at least, the 
people had had enough of the glories of war. 

On the 15th of January, 1815, the news of the victory of 
New Orleans was announced in an extra of the Buffalo Gazette, 
but although it occasioned general rejoicing, yet the delight was 
by no means so great as when, a week later, the people of the 
ravaged frontier were informed of the signing of the treaty of 
Ghent. Post-riders as they delivered letters, doctors as they 
visited their patients, ministers as they journeyed to meet their 
backwoods congregations, spread everywhere the welcome news 
of peace. 


Gen. Nott, in his reminiscences, relates that the first sermon in 
Sardinia was preached at his house by " Father Spencer," early 
in 1 8 1 5. There was a large gathering. The people had heard that 
the good missionary had a newspaper announcing the conclusion 
of peace, and they were, most of them, probably more anxious 
to have their hopes in that respect confirmed than for aught else. 
Father Spencer was not d"isposed to tantalize them, and imme- 
diately on rising to begin the services he took the paper from 
his pocket, saying, " I bring you news of peace." He then read 
the olificial announcement, and it may be presumed that the grat- 
ified congregation afterwards listened all the more earnestly to 
the news of divine peace which it was the minister's especial 
province to deliver. 

In a very brief time the glad tidings penetrated to the most 
secluded cabins in the county, and all the people turned with 
joyful anticipations to the half-suspended pursuits of peaceful 



1815 AND 1816. 

The Situation.— Beginnings of Villages .—General Porter.— A. H. Tracy.— Sam- 
uel Wilkeson. — Dr. Marshall. — Another Newspaper.— New Officials.— First 
Murder Trial.— Reese and Young King.— An "Angel of Death."— The 
Moral Society.— Marine Intelligence.— Buffalo Business. — Williamsville.— 
Alden.— Willink.— .\n Unpleasant Meeting.— Cheap Money.— Holland Mills. 
— Basswood Sugar. — Wright's Corners. —Duplicate "Smith's Mills."— Hill's 
Corners. — "Fiddler's Green." — "The Old Court House." — "The Man who 
Knows all the World." — Civil and Military Dignitaries. — Lake Cargoes. — 
"Grand Canal" Preliminaries. — Bank of Niagara. — Marshal Grouchy. — Red 
Jacket on Etiquette. — " The Cold Summer." — The Consequences. — A Mighty 
Hunter. — A Fruitless Sacrifice. — Asa Warren. 

It i.s needless to give a resume of the condition of Erie county 
at the close of the war of 181 2. It was just where it was at 
the beginning of that contest, except that Buffalo and Black 
Rock had been burned, and that here and there a pioneer had 
abandoned his little clearing. No new business had been devel- 
oped anywhere, hardly a solitary new settler had taken up his 
abode in the county, and those already there had been so har- 
rassed by Indian alarms and militia drafts that they had ex- 
tended but very little the clearings which existed at the begin- 
ning of the war. 

Immediately after the conclusion of peace, however, the long 
restrained tide again flowed westward, and for a while emigrants 
poured on to the Holland Purchase more rapidly than ever. 

It will of course be impracticable, henceforth, to give atten- 
tion to the names of individual settlers, to petty officers and to 
minor details, as during the pioneer period before the war. My 
notices will necessarily be confined to men in more or less pub- 
lic positions, to the general development of the county, to im- 
portant events occurring in it, and to the origin of the scores of 
pleasant villages which now dot its surface. Nearly all of these 
first began to assume village shape during the ten years next 
succeeding the war of 18 12. 


WilHamsville and Clarence Hollow were the only places, out- 
side of Buffalo and its afterward-absorbed rival, Black Rock, 
which had advanced far enough to have a grist-mill, saw-mill, 
tavern and store all at once. The acquisition of the last-named 
institution, in addition to the other three, might fairly be con- 
sidered as marking the beginning of a village. Taverns could 
be started anywhere. A man bought a few gallons of whisky, 
put up a sign in front of his log house, and forthwith became a 
hotel-keeper. Saw-mills were not very expensive, and were soon 
scattered along the numerous streams wherever there was the 
necessary fall. Grist-mills were more costly, and he was a heavy 
capitalist who could build one ; still they were so absolutely nec- 
essary that they were frequently erected very early in the 
course of settlement, and while residences were still widely 

But a store, a place where a real merchant dispensed calico, 
tea, nails, molasses, ribbons and salt, marked a decided advance 
in civilization, and almost always was the nucleus of a hamlet 
which has since developed into a thriving village. 

A considerable body of troops remained at Buffalo during the 
winter, but all were sent away in the spring. 

With one of the officers, Colonel Snelling, Red Jacket had 
formed a special intimacy. On his being ordered to Governor's 
Island in the harbor of New York, the sachem made him the 
following little speech, as published by a relative of the colonel: 

" Brother — I hear you are going to a place called Governor's 
" Island. I hope you will be a governor yourse:lf. I understand 
" that you white people think children a blessing. I hope you 
" may have a thousand. And above all, wherever you go, I 
" hope you may never find whisky above two shillings a quart." 

In March, General Porter was appointed Secretary of State of 
New York by Governor Tompkins, and resigned his seat in 
Congress. His new position, and the one which he subsequent- 
ly accepted, of United States commissioner to settle the north- 
ern boundary, seem to have had an obscuring effect on his fame; 
for whereas, not only during but before the war he had been one 
of the foremost men of the State, and almost of the nation, 
yet immediately afterwards he nearly disappeared from public 
sight. Nor did he ever regain the preeminent position he occu- 


pied at the close of the war, though he afterwards for a brief 
period held a cabinet office. 

A young man, destined in a very brief time to acquire a large 
part of the influence previously wielded by Porter, opened a law- 
office in Buffalo in the spring of 1815. This was, Albert H. 
Tracy, then twenty-two years old, a tall, erect, vigorous young 
man, of brilliant intellect and thorough culture, a clear-headed 
lawyer and a skillful manager of the political chariot. 

Another man, who immediately after the war entered on a 
career of great success and influence, was Samuel Wilkeson. In 
fact he had made a beginning in Buffalo a little earlier, building 
a shanty and opening a small mercantile business among the 
ruins, while war was still thundering around: He was another 
of the " big men," physically as well as mentally, who built up 
the prosperity of the emporium of Western New York. Over six 
feet high, with strong, resolute features, the index of a vigorous 
mind, always driving straight at his object, tremendous indeed 
must have been the difficulties which could divert him from it. 

Dr. John E. Marshall was another influential man who set- 
tled in Buffalo in the spring of 18 15. Like Wilkeson he came 
from Chautauqua county, of which he had been the first county 
clerk, and soon became prominent in his profession, in business 
and in political life. 

In April, 181 5, another newspaper, called the Niagara Jour- 
nal, was established in Buffalo by David M. Day, who remained 
its editor and proprietor for many years, and wielded a strong 
influence in the county. The Gazette had leaned toward Fed- 
eralism ; the Journal was Democratic. 

The assembly district composed of Niagara, Cattaraugus and 
Chautauqua counties was now awarded two members, the first 
ones chosen being Daniel McCleary, of Buffalo, and Elias 
Osborn, of Clarence. McCleary, also, soon after removed to 

The data are somewhat obscure, but Senator Archibald S. 
Clarke was elected to fill out Porter's term in Congress, and I 
think it was at a special election in June, 1815. Mr. Clarke 
was also appointed county clerk in 181 5, and Dr. Johnson sur- 

The -supervisors chosen in that year were Jonas Hai'rison, of 


Buffalo ; Otis R. Hopkins, of Clarence ; Lemuel Wasson, of 
Hamburg ; Lemuel Parmely, of Eden. Concord and Willink 
unknown. In the latter town Arthur Humphrey and Isaac 
Phelps, Jr., were supervisors two or three terms each, between 
its first and second divisions. 

These were the days when "general trainings" were occasions 
of great importance, and we must not neglect the military. 

At the close of the war Gen. Hopkins resigned his brigadier- 
ship, and in May a new military commission was issued by 
which Lt.-Col. Wm. Warren was made brigadier-general. Wm. 
W. Chapin (son of Dr. Daniel) became lieutenant-colonel, with 
James Cronk and Joseph Wells as majors. Ezekiel Cook was 
made lieutenant-colonel commanding the regiment in the south- 
ern towns, its majors being Ezra Nott and Sumner Warren. 

In June, 1815, there occurred the first murder trial in the 
present county of Erie, when Charles Thompson and James 
Peters were convicted of the murder of James Burba. They 
had both been soldiers in the regular army, and during the war 
had been sent on a scout with a companion, another soldier, a 
mile and a half below Scajaquada creek. They had gone three 
miles below the creek to Burba's residence, committed some 
depredations, got into a quarrel with the owner, and finally 
killed him. Their comrade escaped. The case furnishes 
further evidence of the inattention paid by the journals of 
that day to local news. To this important trial, at which two 
men were convicted of a capital crime, the Buffalo Gazette de- 
voted just seventeen lines! Not a word of the evidence was 
given. Yet in the same issue that journal gave up a column 
and a half to the execution of a forger in England. 

In August the two men were executed in public, as was the 
rule in that day. The prisoners and scaffold were guarded by 
several companies of militia, under General Warren. Glezen 
Eillmore, the young Methodist minister of Clarence, preached 
the funeral sermon, and was assisted in the last rites to the con- 
demned by Rev. Miles P. Squier, who had just settled in Buf- 
falo as the pastor of the Presbyterian church. On this occasion 
the Gazette conquered its apparent antipathy to local matters 
so far as to give a narrative of the crime in forty-six lines, but 
restricted its description of the execution to sixteen. 


Another event, which at an earher day would have set all the 
people wild with fears of Indian massacre, was a conflict be- 
tween David Reese, the blacksmith, and the Seneca chief, 
" Young King." The former had had a quarrel with another 
Indian, and had struck him. Young King rode up and de- 
nounced him for doing so. Reese told the chief if he would 
get off his horse he would serve him the same way. At this 
Young King dismounted and struck the blacksmith with his 
club. Reese immediately snatched a scythe from a bystander, 
and inflicted on the chief's arm a blow so severe that it was 
found necessary to amputate it. 

Ten years before this might have brought on a bloody conflict 
between the Indians and whites, but the latter were now strong 
enough to protect themselves unless their red neighbors were 
joined by the English, of which there was at that time no dan- 
ger. There was, however, some danger to Reese himself from 
the vengeance of Young King's friends. None of those around 
Buffalo seem to have made any trouble, but John Jemison, the 
half-breed son of the celebrated " White Woman," a man of 
desperate passions, who murdered two of his own brothers, came 
from the Genesee at the head of a party of Indians, with the 
avowed intention of killing Reese. Turner, in his " Holland 
Purchase," mentions having seen Jemison on his way, and de- 
scribes him as well personifying the ideal Angel of Death. His 
face was painted a bloody red, long bunches of horsehair, also 
colored red, hung from his arms, and his appearance betokened 
a determination to use promptly the war-club and tomahawk 
which were his only weapons. 

Reese's friends, however, either secreted or guarded him, and 
the danger passed by. The dispute with Young King was prob- 
ably settled by Reese's paying him a sum of money, though all 
I can learn is that it was referred by the principals to Judge Por- 
ter, Joshua Gillett and Jonas Williams, as arbitrators. 

The proceedings of a brief-lived institution called the Buffalo 
Moral Society, organized for the repression of vice in that vil- 
lage, shows the change of public sentiment on two points. A 
very guarded temperance resolution was adopted, in which it 
was recommended to professors of religion and friends of mor- 
ality " as far as practicable " to refrain from ardent spirits, to 


admit their use cautiously if at all, and to devise means of les- 
sening if not discontinuing their use among laborers. 

As to Sabbath-breaking their ideas were far more positive, as 
not long after they published a resolution declaring that the 
laws should be strictly enforced, not only against all who should 
drive loaded teams into the village, unload goods, keep open 
stores, etc., but also against all parties of pleasure, riding or 
walking to Black Rock or elsewhere. Such a society would now 
speak far more strongly against the use of liquor, but would 
hardly dream of prohibiting people from walking out on Sunday. 

The first marine intelligence published under the head of 
" Port of Buffalo" was on the 15th of August, 181 5, when the 
Gazette announced the following for the week previous : Entered 
— a boat from Detroit, loaded with fish and wool ; sloop Commo- 
dore Perry, peltries. Cleared — sloop Fiddler, Cuyahoga, salt 
and pork. 

The vessels in use appear to have been all sloops, schooners 
and open boats, and all but the last named craft landed at Black 
Rock. Salt was the most common article of merchandise sent 
up the lake. There were also sent in small quantities, dry goods, 
groceries, furniture and clothing. There was still less return 
freight. Nearly half of the few vessels came down the lake in bal- 
last, but none went up so. When they were loaded on the return 
trip, it was usually with fish, fur and peltries. Not a bushel of 
grain, not a pound of flour, came down for many years after the 

Building went on apace, and in July the Gazette boasted that 
there were nearly as many houses erected, or in process of erec- 
tion, as had been burned a year and a half before. 

Williamsville, which had become a place of considerable im- 
portance during the war, did not increase much for a good while 
after. Isaac F. Bowman was merchant and postmaster there in 

Alden had been hardly as early in settlement as the other 
towns north of the reservation. The first saw-mill was not 
erected until 1814, John C. Rogers being the owner and builder. 
The next year a small log house was fitted up on the east part 
of the site of Alden village, and used both as school-house and 
church; Miss Mehitable Estabrooks being the first school-teacher. 


To the corners in Willink, a mile east of Stephens' Mills, 
(now " East Aurora,") there came in the spring of 18 15 a tall, 
dark, slender young man, .about twenty-one years old, who pur- 
chased a small, unfinished frame and opened a store. This 
was Robert Person, for fifty years one of the most prominent 
citizens of Aurora, and this was the beginning of merchandis- 
ing in Willink, aside from the abortive attempt of 181 1. 

A little before the close of the war a mail-route had been 
established through Willink and Hamburg, from east to west, 
running near the center of the present towns of Wales, Aurora 
and East Hamburg. There was a post-office called Willink at 
Blakely's Corners, two miles south of Aurora village, and, I 
think, one called Hamburg at "John Green's tavern." Simon 
Crook was the first postmaster of the former. After the war it 
was moved down to Aurora village, where Elihu Walker was 
postmaster for nearly twenty years. 

Dr. John Watson continued to be the physician for the local- 
ity around Stephens' Mills. His brother, Dr. Ira G. Watson, 
located at what was afterwards called South Wales, where he prac- 
ticed over thirty years, his ride extending over a large part of 
Wales, Aurora, Holland and Colden. It would appear that 
country doctors were sometimes short of medicines, for Dr. 
John Watson took pains to advertise that he had medicines for 

Mr. Wm. C. Russell, of South Wales, who came there, a boy, 
with his father, John Russell, near the close of the war, says 
there was then a road, which could be traveled by teams, from 
Buffalo through the reservation to Stephens' Mills. It was suffi- 
ciently wile, however. He and his oldest sister, a young girl, 
drove a cow ahead of the team. Near what is now Spring 
Brook a bear crossed the trail just ahead of them. Seeing the 
children, he stood up on his hind legs to reconnoitre. Hearing 
them scream and seeing them pick up clubs, he finally retreated. 
At this time John McKeen kept the old " Eagle stand " at the 
west end of the village of East Aurora, and there were a few 
houses, mostly log, at each end of that village. 

In 1 8 16, Aaron Warner opened a tavern at South Wales. 
His son, D. S. Warner, in describing the scarcity of money 
then, says he does not believe there was five dollars of current 


money between Aurora and Holland. "Shinplasters," issued by- 
private firms, were in use in many parts of the country, which, 
as Mr. Warner says, "were good from one turnpike gate to 

Before the close of the war, Col. Warren and Ephraim Wood- 
ruff had bought the mill-site at Holland village, and finished a 
grist-mill already begun— the first in the present town of Hol- 
land. In the spring of 1815 Warren bought out Woodruff and 
moved to Holland, where he built a saw-mill, the first in that 
vicinity. Robert Orr was the mill-wright, and in the autumn 
of the same year he bought out Warren, who returned from Hol- 
land to Aurora; that is to say, he returned from the place where 
Holland was going to be to the place where Aurora was going 

to be. 

Joshua Barron kept the first tavern in Holland, on the site 
of the village, just after the war, in the only frame house in 
the township. His sister, Lodisa Barron, since Mrs. Stanton, 
and still an active woman, kept the first school in that vi- 
cinity. There had been one in the Humphrey neighborhood 

James Reynolds opened a store in East Hamburg, near the 
close of the war, not far from the site of the Friends' meeting- 
house — afterwards still nearer Potter's Corners. A man named 
Cromwell also had a store there not long after the war. His clerk 
was from New York city, and old pioneers still smile aloud as 
they relate how the young New Yorker attempted a grand 
speculation in sugar, and began by tapping all the largest white 
oaks and basswoods he could find. 

Jacob Wright still kept the inn at or near Wright's Corners, 
and there the "townsmen of Hamburg" met in 1815, and, after 
electing Mr. Wasson supervisor, voted a bounty of five dollars 
on wolf-scalps. At this time the town was divided into nine 
school-districts. The " Friends, called Quakers," as the record 
says, presented a petition, and were set off in a district by 

About this time, too, a Mr. Bennett opened a dry-goods and 
grocery store at Smith's Mills, (Hamburg,) thp. first one there. 
James Husted also had a tannery there. Although that was 
the principal place known as " Smith's Mills," there was another 

smith's mills and fiddler's green. 299 

point of the same name not a great ways off, at the mills of 
Humphrey Smith, in Willink, since called Griffin's Mills. 

Mr. Wm. Boies, of the latter place, relates that when he first 
came into Erie county, in the spring of 181 5, he was sent ahead 
by his brother to find his way, on horseback, to a still older 
brother who lived at " Staffordshire," in Aurora. He was di- 
rected to go to Buffalo, then up the beach of the lake, inquiring 
the way to "Wright's Corners," and there to inquire for " Smith's 
Mills." He did so, and was surprised to find himself at Smith's 
Mills only two miles from Wright's Corners. Further inquiry 
led to his finding that there was another Smith's Mills six or 
seven miles eastward, and thither he made his way. 

Soon after the war John Hill's father, William Hill, formerly 
a surgeon in the Revolution, came to what is now Eden Center, 
and kept the first tavern there. The place was then called Hill's 

The people of the town of Concord, (which it will be remem- 
bered comprised Sardinia, Concord, Collins and North Collins,) 
began to make a kind of business center at the point on Spring 
creek where Albro and Cochran had first settled, where Rufus 
Eaton had built a saw-mill before the war, and where he had 
afterwards erected a grist-mill and distillery. 

Settlers had become so numerous around there that, in the 
winter of 18 14, Mr. Eaton's son, Rufus C. Eaton, then nineteen, 
taught a school with seventy scholars. David Stickney started a 
tavern, and Capt. Frederick Richmond brought in some grocer- 
ies shortly after the war — I cannot learn exactly when. There 
was a small open space, used as a kind of common, where the 
public square at Springville now is, which soon acquired the 
name of Fiddler's Green. The reason is a little doubtful, but 
the best account is that there were several good fiddlers living 
in the immediate vicinity, and the people for miles around used 
to assemble there for merry-makings of all kinds. From this 
the little village received the same name, and for many years 
" Fiddler's Green " was its universal designation. Notwithstand- 
ing this godless name, a Presbyterian church was organized 
there by Father Spencer, in 18 16, being the first in the place. 
A Methodist and a Baptist church were formed not long after, 
but I have not the exact dates. 


In the spring of 1816 a new court-house was begun in Buffalo, 
and the walls erected during the summer. Instead of being 
placed in the middle of Onondaga (Washington) street, with a 
circular plat around it, as before, it was built on the east side of 
that street, and a small park was laid out in front of it. The 
building then erected was the one which for the last twenty-five 
years has been known as the " Old Court House," and which 
has been torn down during the present season. 

In that year Benjamin Ellicott, younger brother of Joseph, 
was elected to Congress. He was a resident of Williamsville, a 
surveyor by occupation, and not conspicuous after the expiration 
of his official term. The Indians called him by a name signify- 
ing " The Man who Knows all the World." They had observed 
him draw maps from notes brought him by his subordinates 
on which he depicted rivers and creeks which they knew 
he had never seen ; hence the admiring appellation they gave 
him. He was the last congressman from Erie county residing 
outside the village or city of Buffalo. 

The members of assembly chosen from this district were 
Richard Smith of Hamburg, and Jediah Prendergast of Chau- 
tauqua county. Frederick B. Merrill was appointed county 
clerk in this year, in place of Archibald S. Clarke ; the latter 
being made a member of the governor's council of appointment. 
He was also commissioned as a judge of the Common Pleas. I 
doubt if any other man in the county has ever held so many 
offices as Judge Clarke. 

The board of supervisors for that year was comprised of Na- 
thaniel Sill of Buffalo, Otis R. Hopkins of Clarence, Richard 
Smith of Hamburg and Lemuel Parmely of Eden. 

The town-book of Buffalo has been preserved since the war, 
and this one of its records, in 18 16, brings vividly before the 
reader the then primeval condition of that great city and its 
suburbs : 

"Voted that a reward of $5.00 be paid for the destruction of 
every wolf killed in said town, to be paid by the town, and that 
the evidence of their destruction shall be their scalp with the 
skin and ears on." 

Military affairs were not suffered to lag, so far as the appoint- 
ment of officers was concerned. A new regiment was created 


in the spring of 18 16; Colonels Chapin and Cook disappear 
from the record, and a commission was issued making Sumner 
Warren of Willink (Aurora), James Cronk of Clarence (New- 
stead), and Ezra Nott of Concord (Sardinia), lieutenant-colonels 
commandant ; Joseph Wells of Buffalo, and Luther Colvin of 
Hamburg (East Hamburg), first majors ; and Calvin Fillmore of 
Clarence (Lancaster), Frederick Richmond of Concord, and 
Benjamin I. Clough of Hamburg, second majors. 

The commerce of the port of Buffalo continued of a very 
miscellaneous character, and articles of the same kind frequently 
went both ways. From a few records of cargoes, taken in their 
order, I find the articles going up were whisky, dry-goods, house- 
hold-goods, naval stores, dry-goods, groceries, hardware, salt, fish, 
spirits, household-goods, mill-irons, salt, tea, whisky, butter, 
whisky, coffee, soap, medicines, groceries, household-goods, farm 

Coming down, the list comprised furs, fish, cider, furs, paint, 
dry-goods, furniture, scythes, furs, grindstones, coffee, skins, 
furs, cider, paint, furs, fish, household-goods, grindstones, skins, 
scythes, coffee, fish, building-stone, crockery, hardware, pork, 
scythes, clothing. It is difficult to guess whereabouts up the 
lake crockery, hardware, dry-goods and coffee came from at that 
day, but such is the record. 

Nearly all the vessels were schooners, a few only being sloops. 
The lake marine in 18 16 was composed, besides a few open 
boats, of the schooners Dolphin, Diligence, Erie, Pomfret, Wea- 
sel, Widow's Son, Merry Calvin, Firefly, Paulina, Mink, Mer- 
chant, Pilot, Rachel, Michigan, Neptune, Hercules, Croghan, 
Tiger, Aurora, Experiment, Black Snake, Ranger, Fiddler, and 
Champion ; and the sloops Venus, American Eagle, Persever- 
ance, Nightingale, and Black-River-Packet. 

There certainly did not seem to be much commerce to justify 
a grand canal from the Hudson to Lake Erie, but the statesmen 
of the day, looking hopefully toward the future, deemed its con- 
struction expedient, and they were eagerly seconded by the 
people. There had been various suggestions put forth from a 
very early day regarding the importan£e of a good water-com- 
munication between the ocean and the lakes. Most of them, how- 
ever, were directed toward the improvement of the natural 


channels, so as to connect the Mohawk with Lake Ontario at 

The first distinct, public advocacy of a separate canal from 
the Hudson to Lake Erie was made by Jesse Hawley, of On- 
tario county, in a series of essays published in the Ontario Mes- 
senger, in 1807-8. His idea was taken up by others, explora- 
tions were ordered by the legislature, and just before the war 
a law was passed authorizing the actual construction of the 
canal. The war, however, caused its repeal. De Witt Clinton 
had been foremost in urging forward the work, being strongly 
seconded by Gouverneur Morris, Joseph Ellicott, Peter B. Por- 
ter and others. Mr. Ellicott, especially, showed at once great 
breadth of view, and excellent practical judgment. 

Immediately after the war the scheme was revived, Clinton 
being still its warmest supporter. Public opinion was thor- 
oughly awakened, and in March, 18 16, a bill passed the assembly 
directing the immediate commencement of the canal. The 
more conservative senate insisted on further surveys and esti- 
mates, to which the assembly assented. The same summer a 
route was surveyed from Buffalo to the Genesee, which was sub- 
stantially the same as that finally adopted. 

In July, 1816, the first bank in Erie county was organized, 
and named the Bank of Niagara. The whole capital was the 
immense sum (for those times) of five hundred thousand dollars, 
but the amount required to be paid down was modest enough, 
being only six dollars and twenty-five cents on each share of a 
hundred dollars. The directors were chosen from a wide range 
of country — being Augustus Porter, of Niagara Falls ; James 
Brisbane, of Batavia ; A. S. Clarke, of Clarence ; Jonas Wil- 
liams and Benjamin Caryl, of Williamsville ; Isaac Kibbe, of 
Hamburg; Martin Prendergast, of Chautauqua county ; Samuel 
Russell and Chauncey Loomis (exact residence unknown), and 
Ebenezer F. Norton, Jonas Harrison, Ebenezer Walden and 
John G. Camp, of Buffalo. Isaac Kibbe was the first president, 
and Isaac Q. Leake the first cashier. 

In those days probably a man might move in the first circles 
without his name being either Ebenezer, Jonas or Isaac, but 
those were certainly the fashionable appellations 

Probably it had no perceptible influence on the destiny of 


Erie county, yet it seems worth mentioning that in November, 
18 16, Marshal Grouchy and suite, returning from Niagara Falls, 
came to Buffalo and then visited the Seneca Indian village. It 
is interesting to pause a moment from chronicling the erection of 
log-taverns and the election of supervisors, to contemplate the 
war-worn French marshal, (the hero of a score of battles, yet 
half-believed a traitor because he failed to intercept the march 
of Blucher to support Wellington at Waterloo,) soothing his 
vexed spirit with a visit to the greatest of natural wonders, and 
then coming to seek wisdom at aboriginal sources, and exchange 
compliments with Red Jacket and Little Billy. 

Doubtless the renowned Seneca orator arrrayed himself in his 
most becoming apparel, and assumed his stateliest demeanor to 
welcome the great war-chief from over the sea, and doubtless he 
felt that it was he, Sagoyewatha, who was conferring honor by 
the interview. An anecdote related by Stone shows how 
proudly the sachem was accustomed to maintain his dignity. 

A young French count came to Buffalo, and, hearing that 
Red Jacket was one of the lions of the western world, sent a 
messenger inviting the sachem to visit him at his hotel. Sa- 
goyewatha sent back word that if the young stranger wished to 
see the old chief, he would be welcome at his cabin. The count 
again sent a message, saying that he was much fatigued with his 
long journey of four thousand miles ; that he had come all that 
distance to see the celebrated orator, Red Jacket, and he thought 
it strange that the latter would not come five miles to meet him. 
But the chief, as wily as he was proud, returned answer that it 
was still more strange that, after the count had traveled all that 
immense distance for such a purpose, he should halt only a few 
miles from the home of the man he had come so far to see. 
Finally the young nobleman gave up, visited the sachem at his 
home, and was delighted with the eloquence, wisdom and dig- 
nity of the savage. Then, the claims of etiquette having been 
satisfied, the punctilious chieftain accepted an invitation to dine 
with his titled visitor at his hotel. 

The same year, several Senecas were taken to Europe to be 
shown, by a speculator called Captain Hale. The principal 
ones were the Chief So-onongise, commonly called by the whites 
Tommy Jemmy, his son. Little Bear, and a handsome Indian 



called " I Like You." Jacob A. Barker, son of Judge Zenas 
Barker, went along as interpreter. The speculation seems not 
to have been a success, and Hale ran away. An English lady, 
said to have been of good family and refined manners, fell des- 
perately in love with " I Like You," and was with difificulty pre- 
vented from linking her fortunes to his. After his return, the 
enamored lady sent her portrait across the ocean to her dusky 
lover. There have been many such cases, and sometimes the 
woman has actually wedded her copper-colored Othello, and 
taken up her residence in his wigwam or cabin. 

Among the farmers, the peculiar characteristic of 1816 was 
that it was the year of the "cold summer.'' Though sixty 
years have passed away, the memory of the " cold summer " is 
still vividly impressed on the minds of the surviving pioneers. 

Snow fell late in May, there was a heavy frost on the 9th of 
June, and all through the summer the weather was terribly un- 
propitious to the crops of the struggling settlers. There had 
been a large emigration in the spring, just about time enough 
having elapsed since the war for people to make up their minds 
to go West. Forty families came into the present town of Hol- 
land alone, and elsewhere the tide was nearly as great. 

An overflowing population and an extremely short crop, with 
no reserves in the granaries to fall back on, soon made provisions 
of all kinds extremely high and dear. The fact that there is 
little or no grain in store always makes a failure of the crop 
fall with treble severity on a new country, as has been seen in 
the case of drouth in Kansas and grasshoppers in Nebraska. 
How closely the reserve was worked up in this section may be 
seen by the fact that on the 17th of August, 1816, just before 
the new crop was ground, flour sold in Buffalo for $15.00 a bar- 
rel, and on the 19th there was not a barrel on sale in the village. 

The new crop relieved the pressure for a while, but this ran 
low early in the winter, and then came scenes of great suffering 
for the poorer class of settlers. In many cases the hunter's 
skill furnished his family with meat, but in a large part of thd 
county there had been just enough settlement to scare away 
the game. There is no proof that any of the people actually 
starved to death, but there can be no doubt that the weakening 
from long privation caused many a premature death. 


Fortunate were the dwellers where the deer were still numer- 
ous. There were many in the vicinity of the Cattaraugus creek. 
Josiah Thompson, now of Holland, was a famous hunter of those 
days, residing in the east part of Concord, now Sardinia. He 
told me that in the winter after the "cold summer," when many 
families were almost starving, the men would come to him for 
the loan of his rifle to kill deer. But, like many hunters, he held 
his rifle as something sacred. His invariable reply was that he 
would not loan his rifle, but would willingly kill a deer for the 
seeker, and did so again and again. 

He stated that he had frequently, after killing deer all one day, 
had a good sled-load to draw in the next day. Not only deer 
but bears and wolves fell before his unerring rifle. On one oc- 
casion he met five bears and killed three of them. But his 
most remarkable feat was when, as he asserted, he went out 
after supper and killed eighteen deer before quitting for the 
night. I didn't ask him when he ate supper. 

During the cold summer the Indians tried to produce a change 
by pagan sacrifices. Major Jack Berry, Red Jacket's inter- 
preter, a fat chief who usually went about in summer with a 
bunch of flowers in his hat, said that to avert the cold weather 
his countrymen burnt a white dog and a deer, and held a grand 
pow-wow under the direction of the medicine men — but the next 
morning there was a harder frost than ever before. 

Notwithstanding the adverse weather, the large emigration 
produced some progress even in 18 16. In the present town of 
Alden, Amos Bliss opened the first tavern in that year. Seth 
Estabrooks brought in a cart-load of groceries, etc., and set up 
as the first merchant, in a one-roomed log-house, a few rods south 
of the main road, on what is now called the Mercer road. 

Gen. Warren built another frame tavern at the east end of 
Willink village. His younger brother, Asa Warren, moved from 
Aurora to Eden, settling first at a place now called Kromer's 
Mills, two or three miles eastward from Eden Center, where he 
built a grist-mill and saw-mill, becoming one of the leading citi- 
zens of the town. 

About the same time, or a little earlier, Erastus Torrey, with 
his younger brothers, located at what is now called Boston Cor- 
ners, but which for many years was known as Torrey's Corners. 


1817 AND 1818. 

Wandering Polls. — Officers. — Formation of Boston. — First Cargo of Flour. — Furs. 
— A Presidential Visitor. — Terrible Roads. — The Four-Mile Woods. ^Starv- 
ing Indians. —Father Spencer. — A Revival. — Beginning the Canal. — Progress 
Here and There. — Lost and Frozen. — Four New Towns. — Willink Destroyed. 
— Political Complications. — A Youthful Congressman. — Wearers of Epau- 
lets.— The "Walk-in-the-Water."— The "Horn Breeze."— Religious Im- 
provement. — A Church Building. — Wright's Mills. — Springville. — Wales 
Emmons. — A Wonderful Battle. — ^John Turkey's Victory. 

The migratory character of the ballot-box, sixty years ago, is 
well illustrated by the journeyings of that of the town of Buf- 
falo in 1817. On the 29th day of March, at 9 a. m., the polls 
were opened at the house of Frederick Miller, at Williamsville. 
At 5 p. m. they were adjourned to the house of Anna Ad- 
kins, on Buffalo Plains. They opened there the next morning 
at nine, and at twelve adjourned to the house of Pliny A. Field, 
at Black Rock. At 5 p. m. they were adjourned to the house 
of Elias Ransom, in the village of Buffalo, where they remained 
during the next day, March 3 1 st. 

The assemblymen elected were Isaac Phelps, Jr., of Willink, 
(Aurora,) and Robt. Fleming, of the present county of Niagara. 

The known supervisors for 18 17 were Erastus Granger of 
Buffalo, Otis R. Hopkins of Clarence, Isaac Chandler of Ham- 
burg, and Silas Estee of Eden. 

The town of Boston, with its present boundaries, was formed 
from Eden on the 5th day of April, 1817. It comprised the 
whole of township Eight, range Seven, except the western tier 
of lots, which was left attached to Eden. It was organized the 
next year, with Samuel Abbott as the first supervisor and young 
Truman Gary as one of the board of assessors. 

Cattaraugus county was separately organized in the summer 
of 1 8 17. Shortly afterwards Samuel Tupper, first judge of Ni- 
agara county, died, and ere long these changes caused a reor- 


ganization of the Court of Common Pleas, by which William 
Hotchkiss, from the present county of Niagara, was named as 
first judge, with five associates ; of these Oliver Forward, Chas. 
Townsend, Samuel Wilkeson and Samuel Russell were from 
the present county of Erie. 

I give a list of justices of the peace appointed in 18 17, which 
I have chanced to meet with, though henceforth it will be im- 
practicable, for lack of room, to include those increasing conserv- 
ators of the law. They were James Wolcott, Jonathan Bowen, 
Isaac Wilson, C. Clifford, Seth Abbott, Amos Smith, John Hill, 
Nathaniel Gray, Salmon W. Beardsley, Gad Pierce, Morton 
Crosby, Frederick Richmond, Rufus Eaton, Burgoyne Camp, 
Elijah Doty, James Sheldon, Ezra St. John, Alexander Hitch- 
cock, Rufus Spaulding, Simeon Fillmore and Luther Barney. 
When I wrote the first draft of this chapter, I mentioned that 
of all that list only Alexander Hitchcock, of Cheektowaga, sur- 
vived. Before the revision for the press took place, he too passed 
away. One of the number, James Sheldon, father of the pres- 
ent Judge Sheldon, was a young lawyer who had lately settled 
in Buffalo, forming a partnership with C. G. Olmsted, who had 
been there a little longer. 

The open boat Troyer, which came into port about the middle 
of July, 1 8 17, brought the pioneer cargo of breadstuffs from the 
West, being partly loaded with flour from Cuyahoga. This was 
the feeble beginning of a trade which now rivals that of many 
an independent nation. 

Yet it was many years after that before the commerce in west- 
ern breadstuffs became of any considerable consequence. Half 
the vessels still came down the lake empty. One week six or 
seven arrivals were in ballast. Furs still constituted the princi- 
pal shipments, in value, from the West, and in the summer of 
18 17 a vessel bearing the curious name of "Tigress and Han- 
nah" brought the largest and most valuable lot ever shipped at 
once from the West, estimated to be worth over a hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars. It comprised five hundred and ninety- 
four packages of beaver, otter, muskrat, bear and buffalo skins, 
of which three hundred and twenty-two packages belonged to 
John Jacob Astor. 

A notable event for this frontier county was the first visit of 


a President of the United States. President Monroe, having 
spent a day at the Falls, came up the river on the 9th of Au- 
gust, accompanied by General Jacob Brown, commander-in- 
chief of the army. He was met below Black Rock by a com- 
mittee of eminent citizens, and escorted to Landon's hotel. 
There was an address by the committee, a brief, extemporane- 
ous reply by the illustrious guest, the usual hand-shake accorded 
to our patient statesmen, and then the President embarked the 
same evening for Detroit. It was noticed by the press that the 
President had then "already been more than two months away 
from Washington," and his western trip and return must have 
consumed nearly a month more. 

The distinguished visitor was certainly not detained to greet 
the people of Tonawanda, for that now flourishing burg had 
then not even made a start in the race for success. Mr. Urial 
Driggs, who as a boy passed through there in that year, says 
there was nothing there but an old log-tavern and a rope-ferry. 
There were, however, two or three log on the north side. 

Early in 1817 a post-office was established at Black Rock, 
James L. Barton being the first postmaster. 

Even at this period there was only a tri-weekly mail from and 
to the East, the stage leaving Buffalo Mondays, Wednesdays 
and Fridays at 5 o'clock a. m. These were the days of terrible 
roads, in both spring and fall. In summer the big coaches 
bowled along easily enough over hill and dale, the closely- 
packed passengers beguiling the time with many a pleasant tale, 
until " stage-coach stories " have become famous for their wit 
and jollity. But woe to the unlucky traveler, doomed to a 
stage-coach experience in spring or fall. That he should be re- 
quired to go on foot half the time was the least of his troubles. 
His services were frequently demanded to pry the coach from 
some fearful mud-hole, in which it had sunk to the axle, with a 
rail abstracted from a neighboring fence, and through pieces of 
wood it was bften thought best to take a rail along. "To go on 
foot and carry a rail," and pay for the privilege besides, was a 
method of stage-riding as celebrated as it was unpleasant. 

Erie county had something more than its full share of such 
highways, as the reservations in it had no roads that were even 
tolerable. Frequent were the complaints of the Cayuga Creek 


road, the Buffalo road, the Big Tree road, etc., but the climax of 
despair was only reached at the "Four-Mile Woods," on the lake 
shore, a little this side of Cattaraugus creek. 

Old settlers tell wonderful stories of the Plutonian depths to 
which the mud reached in that dreadful locality. The historian 
of Evans insists that it was there and nowhere else that the story 
originated of the traveler who, while passing over a horrible 
road, descried a good-looking hat just at the top of the mud. 
Picking it up, he was surprised at being denounced by some one 
underneath, for taking a gentleman's hat off his head without 
leave. On offering to help the submerged individual out, he was 
still more astonished when the latter declined on the ground 
that he couldn't leave the horse he was riding, which was travel- 
ing on hard ground. All agree that this event ought to have 
happened in the " Four-Mile Woods," whether it did or not. 

The Indians on the various reservations had suffered quite as 
severely as any one from the effects of the "cold summer." 
Their game had been largely driven away by settlement around 
them, their own small crops had been destroyed by frost, and 
even their a*inuities were reduced in actual value by the high 
price of provisions. The schoolmaster, Mr. Hyde, made a pub- 
lic appeal for help, declaring that there was great actual want. 

At this time the few Onondagas received about six dollars 
each, while the Senecas, numbering seven hundred, received 
about two dollars and a half to each individual. Part of this 
came from an annuity of five hundred dollars a year, being the 
principal consideration for Grand Island, their claim to which 
they had sold to the State a short time previous. 

In passing, it may be mentioned that that island was entirely 
unoccupied except by a few " squatters," who had located there 
principally for the purpose of cutting staves out of the State's 
timber. These gradually increased in number, and as it was not 
yet fully decided whether the island belonged to the United 
States or Canada, and also because it was very difficult to reach 
the interlopers, they did about as they pleased. 

Some of the Indians cut wood for the Buffalo market, receiv- 
in"" a trifling pay in flour and pork. Some of them obtained 
credit for provisions, and Mr. Hyde declared that they were 
honest and punctual in paying their debts. He said that after 


doing so they would have just about enough left of their annu- 
ities to buy their seed. He got little help from the people, who 
had slight patience with Indian peculiarities. The Presbyterian 
synod of Geneva, however, furnished some aid, and some way or 
other the Indians worried through. 

At this time the Presbyterians, including the Congregationalists, 
with whom they were united for church work, were the leading 
denomination of the county, so far as any could be said to lead, 
though the Methodists, led by that enthusiastic young preacher, 
Glezen Fillmore, were rapidly gaining upon them. I have be- 
fore spoken of "Father Spencer," who was a Congregational 
minister acting under the Presbyterian synod. I find his traces 
everywhere, especially south of the Buffalo reservation. Almost 
every old settler, whatever his religious proclivities, has a story 
to tell of Father Spencer, a short, sturdy man, on a big, bob- 
tailed horse, riding from one scattered neighborhood to another, 
summer and winter, preaching, praying, organizing churches, 
burying the dead and marrying the living ; a man full of zeal 
in his Master's cause, but full also of life and mirth, ready to 
answer every jest with another, and a universal favorite among 
the hardy pioneers. 

He, himself, would not admit being thoroughly beaten in jest 
save in a single instance. His big horse was almost as noted as 
himself. One day, when the roads were terrible, he was resting 
the animal by going on foot ahead, leading him by the bridle. 
The little man trudged sturdily along, but the horse, being old 
and stiff, hung back the full length of the reins. Passing 
through a little village, a pert young man suddenly called out : 

"See here, old gentleman, you ought to trade that horse off 
for a hand-sled ; you could draw it a great deal easier." 

Father Spencer thought so too, and made no reply, but he 
kept the big horse, and used to tell the story on himself with 
great zest. I heard it from half a dozen informants. This 
proves that there were some saucy young men in those days, 
and also that people could get a great deal of enjoyment out of 
a very moderate joke. 

In 1817, I find the first account of anything resembling a 
revival of religion. On one Sunday eight members were ad- 
mitted into the Presbyterian church in Buffalo, and a writer con- 


gratulates the public that "through this section of this lately 
heathen country the spirit of the Lord and the spirit of the 
Gospel are extending far and wide." The same writer is de- 
lighted with similar results attained in "the towns of Willink, 
Hamburg and Edon, where lately the spirits of the evil one 
enchained the hearts of many." The year 18 17 was also notable 
in the history of the State for a measure deeply affecting the 
interests of Erie county ; viz., the passage pf a law actually 
directing the construction of a canal from the Hudson to Lake 
Erie. Previously all had been uncertain ; now the work was 
made as sure as legislative enactment could make it. The first 
ground was broken near Rome, on the 4th of July of that year. 

Among the scattered signs of progress in this year, which I 
have chanced to meet with, Lfind that John C. Rogers, the en- 
terprising builder of the first saw-mill in Alden, in 18 17 also 
erected the first grist-mill. My authority for this and several 
other statements regarding that town is the " Oddaographic," an 
odd and graphic little sheet published at Alden village. 

About this time the Willink " Smith's mills " were sold to 
James and Robert Griffin, and the place has ever since borne 
the name of " Griffin's Mills," or " Griffinshire." James Griffin 
was a man of considerable prominence and was supervisor of 
Aurora two or three years. Adams Paul also set up a store 
there near the same time, perhaps a little earlier, which he kept 
for nearly thirty years. 

In this year, also, Leonard Cook, who still survives, residing 
upon Vermont Hill, opened the first store in the present town of 
Holland, at what is now Holland village. 

That same fall there occurred in that locaUty one of those 
events which most strongly excite the feelings of a frontier set- 
tlement, and furnish a subject of conversation for scores of years 

On the eastern side of Vermont Hill, nearly east from the 
embryo village, lived John Colby, a young settler, some thirty 
years of age, with a wife and two small children. Like many 
others he had been severely straitened by the "cold summer" of 
1 8 16, and had barely struggled through the succeeding winter. 
By the autumn of 18 17, he obtained a cow and one or two 
young cattle. 


When the first snow of the season came, in the month of 
November, Colby's cattle and those of a neighbor strayed away, 
and the two started out in search of them. The neighbor found 
his and returned home, while Colby continued on in search of 
his own. 

All day and all night his wife expected his return, but he came 
not. More snow fell during the night. The next morning the 
news was sent aroynd the neighborhood that John Colby must be 
lost. The log dwellings of the settlers on the hill were widely 
scattered, but the news spread rapidly and a goodly number of 
hardy, active men were soon assembled. The snow of the last 
night had not entirely obliterated the track of the wanderer, 
and the searchers followed upon it. 

For awhile it pursued the direction in which Colby was prob- 
ably seeking his cattle. At length, however, it got among the 
hills and ravines southward from the site of Holland village, and 
then it would appear as if the traveler had entirely lost track of 
home, and had wandered aimlessly among those forest-covered 
steeps. Very likely night had overtaken him before he entered 
among them. 

His friends pursued among the gorges his devious pathway, 
barely discernible under the new-fallen snow. So tortuous had 
been his wanderings that, though the searchers pressed on with 
all practicable speed, the forenoon passed and the afternoon 
waned ere they discovered aught but the half-covered track of 
the missing man. 

At length, a little before nightfall, as the party was approach- 
ing the settlements on Cazenove creek, the leader discovered, 
curled up at the foot of a tree and covered with snow, some- 
thing resembling a human form. All quickly gathered around, 
and there lay John Colby, dead, only a short distance from the 
clearing and house of a settler. 

It would appear, that, having once lost his way, he had be- 
come entirely unable to adopt any line of action. When night 
came on he had wandered about at random among the hills and 
ravines, growing colder and weaker as he went. Had the obvi- 
ous expedient of following a stream of water down hill sug- 
gested itself to him, it would soon have carried him to a clearing, 
but nothing of the kind seems to have come into his mind. 


So he had struggled on, and at length, toward morning, had 
leaned against a tree to rest, and then, overcome by cold and 
fatigue, had fallen down in a heap at its foot. 

Every event of that kind was pretty sure to be celebrated in 
rhyme by some rude versifier of the forest. One Simeon Davis 
was the poetic genius of that locality, and ere long he had turned 
the mournful story of poor John Colby into verse. No less than 
two hundred and forty lines were produced by the facile poet, and 
these being reduced to writing by some admirer, (for Simeon 
himself was destitute of that accomplishment,) were copied, and 
repeated, and sung in many a frontier home for more than a 
score of years. 

The year 18 18 was distinguished by the creation of four new 
towns, and the annihilation of the oldest one in the county. On 
the tenth day of April an act was passed forming the town of 
Amherst out of Buffalo. It comprised the present towns of 
Amherst and Cheektowaga, and nominally extended to the cen- 
ter of the reservation. 

Five days later the town of Willink, the organization of which 
dated back to 1804, was stricken from existence. From its for- 
mer magnificent proportions, rivaling those of a German prin- 
cipality, comprising at one time a strip eighteen miles wide by 
a hundred long, at another a space twenty-seven miles by 
thirty-five, it had been reduced to a block twelve miles square, 
and was now about to suffer annihilation. 

Whether the settlers had some special grudge against the 
worthy Amsterdam burgher who was the recognized head of the 
so-called Holland Land Company, or whether they thought 
his name lacking in euphony, I know not, but they determined, 
so far as they could, to get rid of "Willink." Petitions were sent 
to the legislature, and on the iSth of April the necessary law 
was passed. 

Township Eight, in range Five, and township Eight, in range 
Six, were formed into a new town named Holland, comprising 
the present towns of Holland and Colden. It could hardly 
have been dislike of the Holland Company that led to the cast- 
incT off of the name of "Willink," for Holland must have re- 
ceived its appellation purely out of compliment to that com- 
pany. Nothing could well have been more unlike the half- 


submerged plains at the mouth of the Rhine than the narrow 
valley, precipitous hillsides, and lofty table-lands of the new 

There was more propriety in the name of " Wales," which was 
given to another new town, composed of township Nine, range 
Five, with the nominal addition of half the reservation-land op- 
posite. Its hills, though not so lofty, were numerous enough to 
give it a strong resemblance to the little principality which over- 
looks the Irish channel. 

Finally, by the same act, the remainder of Willink (viz., the 
ninth township in the sixth range and the adjoining reservation- 
land,) was formed into a town by the name of Aurora. As it 
contained a larger population than either of the others, it has 
usually been considered as the lineal successor of Willink, but 
the law simply annihilated the latter town and created three 
new ones. 

The known supervisors for 1 8 1 8 were Charles G. Olmstead of 
Buffalo, Otis R. Hopkins of Clarence, Richard Smith of Ham- 
burg, Samuel Abbott of Boston, and John March of Eden. 
The new towns were not organized till the next year. 

Early in 1818 S. H. Salisbury retired from the Gazette, a fact 
which I notice in order to mention that his farewell address of 
fifty-two lines was the longest editorial which had at that time 
appeared in Erie county. In a few months H. A. Sali-sbury be- 
came sole editor and proprietor. He changed the paper's name 
to " The Niagara Patriot," and announced that in future it would 
be a Republican sheet. 

It will be observed that the name "Republican" was still ap- 
plied to the party which had of old borne that appellation, but 
which had recently been more often called "Democratic." This 
was during what has been termed the "era of good feeling," 
when the Federal party had almost entirely disappeared and no 
new one had taken its place. The Republican, or Democratic, 
party was in full possession of the national field, but in local 
matters it frequently split into factions, which waged war with a 
fury indicating but little of the "good feeling" commonly sup- 
posed to have prevailed. 

In this congressional district the regular Republican conven- 
tion nominated Nathaniel Allen, from the eastern part, and AI- 


bert H. Tracy, the young lawyer of Buffalo. Isaac Phelps, Jr., 
of Aurora was renominated to the assembly, along with Philo 
Orton of Chautauqua county. Forthwith a large portion of the 
party declared war against the nominees. The cause is hard to 
discover, but there was a vast amount of denunciation of the 
" Kremlin Junta." By this it is evident that the original " Krem- 
lin block " was already in existence, having doubtless been thus 
named because built amid the ruins of Buffalo, as the Kremlin 
was rebuilt over the ashes of Moscow. It was there that the 
"Junta," consisting of Mr. Tracy, Dr. Marshall, James Sheldon 
and a few others, were supposed to meet and concoct the most 
direful plans. 

Ex-Congressman Clarke was the leader of the opposing fac- 
tion. Ere long an independent convention nominated Judge 
Elias Osborne, of Clarence, for the assembly, against Phelps, but 
seem to have been unable to find candidates for Congress. The 
old members, John C. Spencer and Benjamin Ellicott, declined 
a renomination, but were voted for by many members of the 
anti-Kremlin party. The Patriot was the organ of the Clarke- 
Osborn faction, while the Journal fought for Tracy and Phelps. 
Dire were the epithets hurled on either side. No political con- 
flict, over the most important issues of the present day, has been 
more bitter than this little unpleasantness during the " era of 
good feeling." At the election in April, Tracy was chosen by 
a large majority, and Phelps by twenty-three. The former was 
then but twenty-five years of age, barely old enough to be le- 
gally eligible to Congress, and considerably the youngest mem- 
ber who has ever been elected in this county. 

A law was passed this year abolishing the office of assistant- 
justice, restricting the number of associate-judges to four, and 
requiring a district-attorney in every county. Under this stat- 
ute Charles G. Olmsted was the first district-attorney of 
Niagara county. 

Asa Ransom, who had been four times appointed sheriff, made 
his final retirement in 18 18, and James Cronk, of what is now 
Newstead, was commissioned in his place. 

Passing from the stirring conflicts of political life to the peace- 
ful scenes of the militia-encampment, we find that in the same 
year Brigadier-General William Warren was appointed major- 


general of the twenty-fourth division, Colonel Ezra Nott being 
made brigadier in his stead. Elihu Rice was Nott's brigade 
major, Earl Sawyer his quartermaster, and Edward Paine quar- 
termaster of another brigade. 

By this time no less than four regiments of infantry had been 
organized within the present county of Erie, and, as the law had 
recently been changed, each had a colonel, lieutenant-colonel 
and one major. The field officers of the 17th regiment, the one 
north of the reservation, were James Cronk, colonel ; Calvin Fill- 
more, lieutenant-colonel; and Arunah Hibbard, major. Cronk's 
office was soon vacated by his appointment as sheriff, when I 
suppose Fillmore and Hibbard were promoted. 

Those of the 170th regiment, apparently comprising only the 
old town of Willink, (Aurora, Wales, Holland and Colden,) 
were Sumner Warren, colonel ; Lyman Blackmar, lieutenant, 
colonel ; and Abner Currier, major. Of the 48th regiment, in 
the towns farther west, Charles Johnson was colonel; Asa War- 
ren, lieutenant-colonel; and Silas Whiting, major. Farther south 
was the i8ist regiment, of which Frederick Richmond was col- 
onel ; Truman White, lieutenant-colonel ; and Benjamin Fay, 

Besides these the 12th regiment of cavalry and the 7th regi- 
ment of artillery had a representation in the county, as I find 
the name of Hawxhurst Addington, of Aurora, as captain in the 
former, and Reuben B.. Heacock, of Buffalo, in the latter. We 
were a very military community in those days. 

A hundred and thirty-nine years after the gallant La Salle 
entered Lake Erie with the pioneer sail-vessel, there occurred 
at the same point a similar event, which, though lacking the 
heroic and romantic elements of the earlier scene, was yet a mat- 
ter of intense interest to a great number of people. 

In the previous November two or three capitalists had come 
from New York to Black Rock, and caused to be laid the keel 
of the first steamboat which any one had ever attempted to build 
above the great cataract. In the spring the work was pressed 
forward, and on the 28th of May, 1818, the new vessel was 
launched amid the acclamations of a host of spectators. It re- 
ceived the appropriate and striking name of "Walk-in-the- 
Water," partly because it did walk in the water, and partly in 


honor of a great Wyandot chieftain who once bore that peculiar 

The new steamer was ready for use about the middle of Au- 
gust, and then occurred a reproduction of La Salle's experience, 
with an element of the ludicrous superadded. Again and again 
the Walk-in-the- Water essayed to steam up the rapids into the 
lake, and again and again it was compelled to fall back, its en- 
gines not being strong enough for the purpose. 

At length, after several days of unavailing trials, the owners, 
to their intense mortification, were compelled to apply to Capt. 
Sheldon Thompson, of Black Rock, for the loan of his cele- 
brated " Horn Breeze," that is to say, of the dozen yoke of oxen 
used to drag sail-vessels up the rapids, and which, as before 
mentioned, the sailors had dubbed by that peculiar title. 

On the 23d of August another trial was made. The " Horn 
Breeze " was duly attached by a cable to the vessel, and steam 
was generated to the utmost capacity of the boilers. The stok- 
ers flung wood into the fire-places, the drivers swung their whips, 
and with steam-power and ox-power combined the vessel moved 
slowly up the rapids. 

Ere long the difficulty was passed, smooth water was reached, 
the " Horn Breeze " was detached, and thus, a hundred and 
thirty-nine years and sixteen days after the Griffin first ploughed 
the waters of Erie, the Walk-in-the- Water inaugurated the sec- 
ond great era of lake navigation. 

Religious improvement steadily continued. A Presbyterian 
church, the first in the present town of Lancaster, was organized 
on the 7th of February, 181 8, at the "Johnson school-house," 
, on the site of Lancaster village, under the name of the Cayuga 
Creek church. It was composed of five males and eight 
females. Rev. Jas. H. Mills being the officiating minister, and 
was the fruit of the revival of the previous year, which was con- 
tinued during the succeeding summer. Before the infant church 
was a year old, it numbered thirty-one members. 

Notwithstanding the large and growing population of the 
county, there was not a solitary church-building within its limits, 
excepting the log meeting-house of the Quakers at East Ham- 
burg. In 1 8 18, however, that energetic young servant of Christ, 
Glezen Fillmore, after serving nine years as a local preacher, 


was regularly ordained as a Methodist minister, at the age of 
twenty-eight, and appointed to a circuit comprising Bufifalo and 
Black Rock, and a wide region northward from those villages. 

On arriving at Buffalo he found just four Methodist brethren! 
The Presbyterians held services in the court-house, and the Epis- 
copalians in a building which, though private property, was used 
as a school-house. At first Mr. Fillmore preached in the lat- 
ter place, by permission of the owner, at sunrise and at early 
candle-light. Besides this he preached twice at Black Rock, 
making four services every Sabbath, and on week-days met 
fourteen appointments in the country. His salary was seventy- 
five dollars the first year. 

Some difficulty arising, he was denied the privilege of preach- 
ing in the school-house. It was determined to build a church. 
A lot was leased on Tuscarora (Franklin) street, and a church 
twenty-five feet by thirty-five was begun on the eighth of De- 
cember, 1818. Mr. Fillmore assumed the responsibility for 
everything. As he expressed it afterwards, " I had no trustees, 
no time to make them, and nothing to make them of" His peo- 
ple, however, contributed according to their means, he wrote 
to a zealous Methodist in New York who collected and sent 
him a hundred and twenty dollars, and Joseph Ellicott gave him 
three hundred. On the 24th day of January, 18 19, just forty- 
seven days after it was begun, the church was dedicated. 

Near this time, though at a warmer season, the whole Metho- 
dist church of Buffalo rode out to a quarterly meeting in Clar- 
ence, in one lumber wagon. Fortunately for the horses there 
were but seven members. 

At the same time improvements were taking place in every 
direction. The forest was being constantly swept away, and 
every little while a new grist-mill or store marked another step 
toward the condition of older communities. 

In most cases the details have not come down to us, but oc- 
casionally I have been able to get hold of an item showing the 
course of progress. 

A grist-mill was built at what is now Evans Center, in 18 18, 
by a man named Wright, who had previously had a saw-mill 
there. A few houses were built around, and for a long time the 
little settlement was known as " Wright's Mills." 


Springville had by this time probably a dozen houses, and 
Mr. Rufus Eaton became so impressed with its prospects that he 
procured a surveyor to make a regular map of it, several of the 
streets then laid down corresponding with those of the present 
day. Drs. Daniel and Varney Ingalls, two brothers, came there 
about this time, and began practicing medicine, being the first 
regular physicans. A Dr. Churchill had practiced before, with- 
out a diploma. 

The place of a lawyer was supplied by Wales Emmons, a 
cabinet-maker, who had settled there the year before, whose 
services in justices' courts were in wide demand, and whose many 
pranks are still the theme of jovial rehearsal. One of the sto- 
ries represents him as being employed by the defendant in an 
action brought before a justice some miles from Springville. 
Seeing that there was no defense, and knowing the dullness of 
the magistrate, Emmons rode over to his residence a day or two 
before the time appointed for the trial, and informed him that 
the defendant had concluded to withdraw the suit and pay the 
costs. To this the worthy justice assented, received the money, 
and noted the withdrawal in his docket. 

On the appointed day the plaintiff, with his counsel, (also an 
amateur,) appeared, when the justice benignantly informed them 
that the defendant had withdrawn the case and paid the costs. 

"Withdrawn the case," roared the pettifogger; "what do you 
mean ? The defendant can't withdraw the case." 

" But he kas withdrawn it," replied the justice, with dignity, 
for he felt as if his word was disputed ; " he /las withdrawn it 
and paid the costs, and it is so entered on my docket, and I will 
have nothing more to do with it." 

The counsel advised a suit before another justice, but the un- 
lucky plaintiff had had experience enough, and settled with 
Emmons' client on the best terms he could obtain. 

Notwithstanding the march of improvement, (as shown by 
such courts of justice,) the fierce denizens of the forest still 
prowled in large numbers around the frontier cabins. 

Numerous combats took place between them and their human 
antagonists, but there was one battle, which came off near the 
beginning or close of 1 818, of such a remarkable character as 
to deserve especial notice. In fact I doubt if all the annals of 


that kind of warfare can show a solitary instance of greater 
coolness, courage or success than was seen on the occasion of 
which I am speaking. It beats even the exploit of Philip Con- 
jocketyin killing the two panthers, which I thought sufficiently 

So remarkable were the circumstances, that I hesitated to be- 
lieve this story until investigation convinced me of its truth. I 
have heard it from several different sources, and, though they 
vary slightly as to details, yet as to the main points there is no 
dispute. The following account of it is derived from a compar- 
ison of the different stories, though the most direct statement 
comes, through Mr. George Wheeler, from Mr. Isaac Hale of 
North Collins, who was a boy of fourteen, residing near where 
the event occurred. It is corroborated by John Sherman, Esq., 
an old resident of the same place. 

An Indian on the Cattaraugus reservation one day discovered 
the trail of three panthers in the deep snow. Not desiring to 
meet such game as that himself, he notified another brave, 
named John Turkey, one of the celebrated hunters of the tribe. 
As the latter told it : "Me sick when he come ; me well quick 
when he tell about panther." 

Turkey took his gun and accoutrements and started alone in 
pursuit. He followed the trail about six miles to the head of 
"Big Sister Swamp" in the present town of North Collins, two or 
three miles southeastward from the village of that name. There 
he came to two or three large trees, turned up by the roots and 
lying close together. Looking beyond them he saw no tracks, 
and at once concluded that the animals were concealed there. 

Turkey put two balls in his mouth, took the stopper out of 
his powder-horn, cocked his gun and approached. Suddenly a 
panther sprang out on to one of the trees, while two others were 
heard below ; all making a noise which Turkey describes as re- 
sembling the caterwauling of a score of tabbies, fifty times in- 
creased. I infer from the story, though it is not directly stated, 
that the first was an old one, and the others not quite full grown. 

Instantly leveling his gun, the hunter fired with so true an aim 
that the panther fell dead to the ground. The two others sprang 
out on the farther side, raising a yell that resounded afar through 
the forest. Turkey reloaded almost in a second, pouring in 

turkey's triumph. 321 

plenty of powder without measuring, and snatching a ball from 
his mouth and dropping it into the muzzle, without a patch and 
without ramming. "Mebbe," said he, "ball go half way down ; 
mebbe not." At the same time one of the young panthers 
sprang on the trees and came toward him. Again he leveled 
his weapon and the second enemy fell dead. The third one had 
attempted to follow the first, but had struck his breast against 
the farther tree, fallen back, and then turned to go around the 
tops. This gave Turkey time to reload in the same expeditious 
manner as before. He had hardly done so when number three 
came around the tops, jumped on a log, and prepared to spring. 
Just as he was doing so, Turkey fired for the third time. The ani- 
mal was fatally wounded in the neck, but came on. Turkey 
sprang aside, the panther stopped, and the Indian was about to 
strike him with his clubbed rifle when he saw him stagger. He 
gave him a push with the muzzle of his gun, when the animal 
immediately rolled over and expired. 

By this time it was nearly dark, and as Turkey was not very 
well he did not purpose to travel any more that evening. So he 
scooped away the snow between the trees, laid down hemlock 
boughs for a bed, put some more across the two trunks for a shel- 
ter, and thus made himself thoroughly comfortable for the night, 
with his dead enemies all around. 

The next morning he skinned his game, shouldered the pelts 
with the heads attached, and went some three miles southwest- 
ward to Hanford's tavern, at Taylor's Hollow. Hanford, or 
some one else, gave him a certificate on which he obtained the 
bounty paid by the town for panthers. He then took them to 
BufTalo, and it is said obtained a county bounty also. Passing 
through Hill's Corners, (Eden Center,) he showed the three 
scalps to the children as they came out of school. I have 
talked with those who saw them there, and the various stories 
from which I have compiled the foregoing account dififer only in 
some minor details. It was certainly one of the boldest ex- 
ploits ever performed, and fairly entitles John Turkey to espe- 
cial mention in the annals of the brave. 




1819 AND 1820. 

The "Grand Canal." — The Harbor Compan}'. — Supervisors, etc. — Strong Lan- 
guage. — The International Boundary. — An Indian Council. — Pagans and 
Christians. — Red Jacket's Question. — Another Execution. — "The People of 
Grand Island." — A Small Rebellion. — Troops ordered out. — The Squatters 
Removed. — A Sad Dilemma. — Governor Clark. — Chntonians and Bucktails. 
— Tracy Reelected. — Other officials. — The Harbor Begun. — Wilkeson turns 
Engineer. — His Services. — New Post-Offices. — Dr. Colegrove. — Niagara Ag- 
ricultural Society. — Town-Managers. — Another Church. — The Amateur En- 
gineer becomes a Judge. — Three New Towns. — New Use for a Psalm-Tune. 

This chapter will be extended a little beyond the years named 
in its title; it being most convenient to include the three months 
of 1 82 1 previous to the formation of Erie county. 

More and more the "Grand Canal," as it was generally called, 
(the name " Erie " was not at first applied to it,) attracted gen- 
eral attention. At Buffalo and Black Rock, in particular, the 
question as to which should be the terminal point became of 
the deepest interest. It was plain that the chances of the 
former must be gravely injured by the fact that it had no har- 
bor, and steps to build one were taken by ten of the principal 
citizens. Of ready money there was almost none in the village. 
The State passed a law to loan twelve thousand dollars for the 
required purpose, to be secured by the bonds and mortgages of 
individuals for twice that amount. If the State officials should 
approve the harbor when finished, they had the privilege of tak- 
ing it and cancelling the indebtedness ; if not, the company 
would have to pay the bonds and reimburse themselves out of 

These hard conditions caused all the managers to withdraw, 
except Charles Townsend, George Coit and Oliver Forward. 
The last of 1819 Samuel Wilke.son joined with them, and then 
the State's offer was accepted. Wilkeson, Forward and Town- 
send (with whom Coit was associated) gave their separate bonds 
and mortgages, each for eight thousand dollars. No work, how- 


ever, could be done till the next year. It seems strange to learn 
that, as Judge Wilkeson afterwards stated, no one ever thought 
of applying to the general government to do a work so plainly 
belonging to it as that. 

Like almost everything in this country the canal question 
found its way into politics. Candidates were interrogated as to 
their position, and in this part of the State a charge of infidelity 
to the " Grand Canal " was the most damaging that could be 

Oliver Forward was elected to the assembly in the fall of 18 19, 
along with Elial T. Foote, of Chautauqua county. Heman B. 
Potter was appointed district attorney, and Dr. John E. Mar- 
shall county clerk. The new towns created the year before were 
organized in 18 19, Gen. Timothy S. Hopkins being elected the 
first supervisor of Amherst, Ebenezer Holmes of Wales, and 
Arthur Humphrey of Holland ; Aurora unknown. Those from 
the other towns were Elijah Leach of Buffalo, Otis R. Hopkins 
of Clarence, Abner Wilson of Hamburg, John March of Eden, 
and John Twining of Boston ; Concord unknown. 

Though politics were rather quiet at this time, there were other 
subjects in which vigorous language could be used. Said a 
writer on the Patriot one day, replying to a previous one in the 
rival sheet: "Some citizen, in the Journal, with a malignity well 
worthy of a denizen of the lower region, has been kind enough 
to empty the Augean stable of his bosom on the late cashier of 
the Bank of Niagara." 

"Augean stable of his bosom" is about as strong an ex- 
pression as can be found in the vocabulary of any modern 

There were some bad boys then, too, as well as now, if one may 
judge from the terms in which one individual described his ab- 
sconding apprentice. Apprenticing was more common then 
than now, and there were a good many advertisements of run- 
aways. But a return of the levanting youth was probably not 
much desired by the master who offered " one cent reward " 
therefor, describing him as about twenty years old, and adding : 
" He has light complexion, knavish look, quarrelsome disposi- 
tion, knows more than anybody else, and is a great liar and 


In the forepart of 1819 the boundary commission, coming 
from the east, estabhshed the line between the United States 
and Canada along the Niagara, and in July passed on to the 
west end of Lake Erie. Gen. Porter was the American, and 
Col. Ogilvie the English commissioner. The principal surveyor 
on the part of the Americans was William A. Bird, (the well- 
known Col. Bird, of Black Rock,) who had just succeeded to 
that post, having previously been assistant. 

The sovereignty of Grand Island was first decisively settled 
by this commission, though previously claimed by the United 
States. It was found by actual measurement of depth, width 
and velocity that the main channel of the river was on the 
Canadian side. There passed on that side 12,802,750 cubic 
feet of water per minute ; on the American side 8,540,080 cubic 
feet rolled by in the same time. To prove the accuracy of these 
measurements, the quantity passing Black Rock per minute was 
calculated by the same method, and found to be 21,549,590 
cubic feet, or substantially the same as the sum of the amounts 
at Grand Island. 

As, however, the determination of the " main channel " was 
held by some to involve other considerations than the amount 
of water, it is possible that Grand Island would not have fallen 
to the Americans had not a large island in the St. Lawrence 
just been awarded to Canada. All the small islands in the Ni- 
agara were also, on account of their location, assigned to the 
Americans, except Navy island, which fell to Canada. 

In the summer of 1819 a strong effort was made by the pre- 
emption-owners to induce the Indians to sell the whole or a 
part of their lands. A council was held on the Buffalo .reserve, 
at which were present a commissioner on the part of the United 
States, one oh the part of Massachusetts, Colonel Ogden and 
some of his associates, and all the principal chiefs of the Sene- 
cas, Cayugas and Onondagas. 

After the United States commissioner had explained the ob- 
ject of the council, and had submitted two propositions, both 
looking to the sale of the Buffalo Creek reservation. Red Jacket, 
on the 9th of July, "rekindled the council fire" and made a long 
speech. As usual he went over the whole ground of the inter- 
course between the white men and the red men, and declared 


most emphatically as the voice of his people that they would 
not sell their lands, no not one foot of them. Warming with 
his subject, the indignant orator declared that they would not 
have a single white man on their reservations— neither work- 
man, school-master nor preacher. Those Indians who wished 
could send their children to schools outside, and those who de- 
sired to attend church could go outside the reservation to do so. 

He added bitterlythat if Colonel Ogden had come down 
from heaven clothed in flesh and blood, and had proved that the 
Great Spirit had said he should have their lands, then, and then 
alone, they would have yielded. 

Afterwards Captain Pollard and thirteen other chiefs apolo- 
gized to the commissioner for the language of Red Jacket. 
Captain Pollard declared that he saw nothing to admire in the 
old ways of his people, and wished for civilization and Christian- 
ity. But all were united in opposing the sale of any of their 
lands, and nothing was effected to that end. 

By this time two distinct parties had been developed among 
the Indians. One favored Christianity and improvement, among 
whom Captain Pollard was the most prominent. Captain Strong, 
a distinguished chief on the Cattaraugus reservation, also an- 
nounced himself a Christian. The other faction was devoted to 
paganism, and resisted every attempt at change, of whom Red 
Jacket was the unquestioned leader. 

The great orator had become more and more bitter against 
everything in anywise pertaining to the white race — except 
whisky. He was doubtless sincere in the belief that the adop- 
tion of white customs would work the destruction of his people, 
and he fought them at every step. He could see the evil wrought 
through the excessive use of liquor, of which he was himself a 
most conspicuous example ; he could see that since the arrival 
of the whites the once mighty Iroquois had dwindled to a few 
feeble bands dependent on the forbearance of their conquerors, 
and he could not, or would not, see anything else. 

Even in minor matters he detested the laws of the whites, and 
derided their justice. Not far from the time of which I am 
speaking, an Indian was indicted at Batavia for burglary, in en- 
tering Joseph Ellicott's house and stealing some trifling article. 
Red Jacket and other Indians attended the trial, and the latter 

326 THE sachem's SARCASM. 

obtained permission to address the jury on behalf of the prisoner 
(of course through an interpreter). He boldly questioned the 
jurisdiction of the court, declared that the Senecas were 
allies, not subjects, of the United States, and said that Indians 
who committed offenses should be tried by their own laws ; as- 
serting that if accused persons should be delivered to them they 
would be so tried and, if guilty, duly punished. 

The culprit was, however, convicted and sentenced to impris- 
onment for life, which was then the penalty for burglary. At 
the same time a white man who had stolen a larger amount than 
the Indian, but without the accompaniment of burglary, was 
sentenced to only a few years imprisonment. This was a new 
cause of disgust to the chieftain, who in his youth had lived in 
a wigwam, to whom a house had none of the sacredness that it 
has to a white man, and in whose mind, consequently, the crime 
of theft was not enhanced by that of burglary. 

Going from the court-house to the tavern, after the session, in 
company with some lawyers, the old sachem observed the State 
coat-of-arms painted over the door of a new.spaper-office. Point- 
ing to the representation of Liberty, he musttered his little stock 
of broken English and inquired : 

" What— him— call ? " 

" Liberty," replied one of the legal gentlemen. 

" Ugh ! " exclaimed the chieftain, in a tone of derision. Then 
he pointed to the other figure on the coat-of-arms and again 
asked : 

" What— him— call > " 

"Justice," was the reply. 

Red Jacket's eye flashed and his lip curled, as he slowly 
asked, in a tone of mingled inquiry and sarcasm : 

" Where — him — live — now .' " 

Very likely the sachem knew as well as his companions what 
the figures represented, and asked the questions merely to make 
a point. 

In December, 1819, the second execution for murder took 
place in the present county of Erie. The crime,, however, was 
committed outside its limits, having been the murder of a sol- 
dier of the garrison of Fort Niagara, by Corporal John Godfrey, 
who was impatient at his dilatory movements. 


Again the people assembled in throngs, again the militia com- 
panies guarded the prisoner, and again the sonorous tones of 
Glezen Fillmore rolled out deep and strong, as he preached the 
funeral sermon of the doomed man. 

But probably the most important event of the year occurred 
on Grand Island. The stave-cutting squatters, heretofore men- 
tioned, had been so little disturbed by the civil authorities, 
(partly because of the difficulty of reaching them, and partly 
because it had not been quite determined whether the island be- 
longed to the United States or Canada,) that they had grown to 
consider themselves a kind of independent nation. 

They set up a sort of government of their own, under which 
they settled whatever difficulties may have arisen among them- 
selves, but bade defiance to the authorities on both sides of the 
river. A Mr. Pendleton Clark, one of the squatters, was recog- 
nized as "governor" by his fellows, justices of the peace were 
elected, and precepts were actually issued " in the name of the 
people of Grand Island." 

On one occasion a constable crossed to the island to arrest one 
of these squatter-sovereigns, when several friends of the culprit 
assembled, put the officer back in his boat, took away his oars 
and set him adrift on the river. He might very likely have been 
carried over the Falls, had he not been rescued by a more humane 
outlaw, living farther down the stream, and taken to the Ameri- 
can side. 

Then the authorities of the State, to which all the land be- 
longed, thought it was time to clear out this nest of offisnders. 
In April, 1 8 19, an act was passed requiring them to leave the 
island, and in case they did not the governor was authorized to 
remove them by force. To this they paid no attention. 

In the fall the governor sent orders to remove the intruders, to 
Sheriff Cronk. That official transmitted the orders to the trans- 
gressors, with directions to leave by a specified day. Some 
obeyed, but over many cabins the smoke continued to curl as 
saucily as before. 

The sheriff then called out a detachment of militia, under 
Lieutenant (afterwards Colonel) Benjamin Hodge, of Buffalo, and 
prepared to vindicate the laws by force. On the 9th of Decem- 
ber, Lieutenant Hodge, with Lieutenant Stephen Osborn, of 


Clarence, (afterwards sheriff,) and thirty rank and file, marched 
down the river from Buffalo to a point opposite the head of the 
island, to which they crossed by boats, landing about 5 o'clock 
p. m. The first sergeant of the^company was Nathaniel Wilgus, 
who wrote an account of the expedition for the Buffalo Histo- 
rical Society, to which I am indebted for many of the facts here 

Rumors of resistance having been rife, muskets were loaded 
with ball-cartridges, and guards and pickets duly stationed ere 
the men encamped for the night. As nearly all the squatters 
were on the western side of the island, the command was marched 
over there the next morning. It was then divided into three 
parties ; a vanguard to read the governor's proclamation and 
help to clear the houses where the parties were willing to leave, 
a main body to forcibly remove all persons and property re- 
maining, and a rear-guard to burn the buildings. 

The boats, which were manned by sailors from the lake, had 
come around the head' of the island, and were in readiness to 
convey the families to the United States or Canada, as they 
might choose. With one exception they all preferred Canada. 
. Perhaps they had come from this side, and had good reasons for 
not wishing to return. 

That day was occupied in removing people to Canada and 
burning houses. The next day was devoted to the same work, 
but there was one case that was peculiar. Dwelling in a comfort- 
able log house, the sheriff found a man and woman living together, 
who begged piteousfy to be allowed to remain. They could not 
make choice between the United States and Canada, for the 
man said he had a wife living in the former country, and the 
woman had a husband in the latter. The good-natured sheriff 
appreciated the terrors of the dilemma, and, on their promising 
to leave as soon as they could see a clear path of escape, he 
gave them permission to remain a while on their island home, 
and even furnished them with two quarts of whisky to relieve 
the tedium of solitude. 

On the next day (the I2th) the party found an old Irishman 
named Dennison, who with two sons and some helpers was busy 
putting up houses. He claimed the right to remain, and told 
the sheriff he had discovered the secret of perpetual motion, in 


which he would give Colonel Cronk a half interest if the latter 
would let him stay. The colonel told him to put his "perpetual 
motion" in use, and leave the island at once. 

Two more days were devoted to the removal of families and 
the destruction of buildings, making five days spent on the 
island by the "army of invasion," besides the time occupied in 
going and returning. About seventy houses (occupied and un- 
occupied) were destroyed, and a hundred and fifty-five men, 
women and children transported to the mainland. Nearly all 
were desperately poor, and Mr. Wilgus stated that he did not 
remember of seeing a co\y or a hog on the island. There were 
only about a hundred acres of clearing, all told. While crossing 
the island, on their return, the troops found one of the precepts 
before mentioned, "in the name of the people of Grand Island," 
fastened to the door of a deserted building. 

The last house visited, and the only one on the eastern shore, 
was that of "Governor" Pendleton Clark, who had already placed 
his effects on a scow preparatory to removal. He went to the 
American side, and not long after bought a tract of land at the 
point where the Erie canal was expected to enter Tonawanda 
creek. Here in time a village was built to which he gave his 
own first name — Pendleton — and of which he was long a 
respected citizen. 

Such is a condensed history of the only civil war (and that a 
bloodless one) ever known within the bounds of Erie county. 
A few of the dispossessed parties soon returned, but as they 
kept very quiet, and were careful not to draw attention to them- 
selves by committing any depredations, they were permitted to 
remain for several years. Among them was "perpetual motion" 
Dennison, who for fifteen years clung to his possession, and in- 
sisted on the value of his "motion," with amusing pertinacity. 

By the beginning of 1820 the Clintonian and Bucktail par- 
ties were in full blast all over the State. Clinton was of course 
the leader and candidate of the former, which claimed, and gen- 
erally received, the benefit of the strong canal feeling which pre- 
vailed. The latter had to some extent the benefit of the regular 
Republican organization, and nominated Vice-President Tomp- 
kins for governor. 

Clinton was elected by a large majority, though his opponent 


had a few years before been the most popular man in the State. 
In the present county of Erie, Clinton received seven hundred 
and thirty-seven votes, to three hundred and ten for Tompkins. 
Boston gave thirty-five votes for Clinton, to one for Tompkins ; 
Aurora a hundred and sixty-four for Clinton, to twenty for 
Tompkins ; Wales a hundred and twenty-six for Clinton, to 
twenty-seven for Tompkins ; and Concord a hundred and 
twenty-eight for Clinton, to twenty for Tompkins. 

The Patriot was the organ of the Bucktails, the Journal of 
the Clintonians. It should be remembered that there was still 
a property qualification, which accounts for the small vote. It 
seems, too, that fraudulent voting was not an unheard of offense 
in those days, for the Patriot charged that neither Aurora nor 
Wales had a hundred legal voters, although the former polled a 
hundred and eighty-four votes, and the latter a hundred and 

The assemblyman this year was Judge Hotchkiss, from north 
of the Tonawanda. The young congressman, Albert H. Tracy, 
was again elected to the national legislature, as the candidate 
of the Clintonians. Judge Oliver Forward, of Buffalo, was 
elected to the State senate, and took a very active part in pro- 
moting the canal, and bringing it to Buffalo. 

The supervisors chosen in 1820 were Ebenezer Walden of 
Buffalo, Oziel Smith of Amherst, Otis R. Hopkins of Clarence, 
Lemuel Wasson of Hamburg, James Aldrich of Eden, John 
Twining of Boston, Ebenezer Holmes of Wales, and Arthur 
Humphrey of Holland. Isaac Phelps, Jr., of Aurora, was ap- 
pointed a judge of the Common Pleas. 

One hardly ever thinks of slavery as having existed in Erie 
county, and in fact slaves were extremely rare there, even when 
the institution was tolerated by law. Yet I think there had 
been two or three colored people permanently held in bondage, 
besides those brought here by officers during the war. The law 
of 1818 decreed the gradual abolition of slavery, providing that 
males under twenty-eight and females under twenty-five should 
remain slaves until those ages, and allowing none but youno- 
slaves to be brought from other states ; in which case the owner 
was obliged to file an afifidavit that they were only to be kept 
till those ages respectively. The only case in this county under 


the law, of which I am aware, occurred in 1820. Gen. Porter 
married a Mrs. Grayson, of Kentucky, daughter of Hon. John 
Breckenridge, attorney-general of the United States under Jef- 
ferson, and aunt of the late John C. Breckenridge. She brought 
five young slaves to Black Rock, and a certified copy of the affi- 
davit of herself and husband, under the above mentioned law, 
is now on file in the old town-book of Buffalo. It is surrounded 
on all sides by records of town-elections, stray heifers and 
sheep's ear-marks, among which this solitary memento of a pow- 
erful but fallen institution has a curious and almost startling 

It was not merely by voting for Clinton that the Buffalonians 
sought to build up their town. The all-important work of con- 
structing a harbor was begun. A superintendent was hired at 
fifty dollars a month! Cheap as were his services, however, it 
was soon found that his estimates were too liberal for a twelve- 
thousand-dollar fund, and he was discharged. No one, however, 
knew where a better man could be found, and none of the com- 
pany knew anything about building a harbor. 

Rather than see the work stop, Mr. Wilkeson abandoned his 
own business and accepted the superintendency. Once installed 
he pushed on the work with even more than his wonted energy. 
The laborers' wages were increased two dollars a month above 
the ordinary price, to induce them to work in the rain, and then, 
in all weather, superintendent and subordinates were seen at 
their task. 

I have read several reminiscences of that critical period of 
Buffalo's history, and all agree that to Samuel Wilkeson, more 
than to any other one man, the city is indebted for its proud 
commercial position. If EUicott was its founder, Wilkeson was 
certainly its preserver. 

In the spring of 1820 a new mail-route was established, run- 
ning from Buffalo to Olean, with three new offices in this county — 
one at " Smithville," more commonly called Smith's Mills, one 
at " Boston," generally known as Torrey's Corners, and one at 
" Springville," still in common parlance called Fiddler's Green. 
Ralph Shepard was the first postmaster at Smithville, Erastus 
Torrey at Boston, and Rufus C. Eaton at Springville. 

A post-office had already been located on the lake shore, in 


the present town of Evans, but under the name of Eden, which 
was then the appellation of the whole town. James W. Peters 
was the first postmaster. 

Although there was as yet nothing in the shape of a village, 
nor even a post-office, in Sardinia, yet in 1820 a young physi- 
cian established himself there, who soon acquired wide renown 
in the healing art. This was Dr. Bela H. Colegrove, who located 
at what has since been called Colegrove's Corners. As a sur- 
geon, especially, his reputation in time became equal to that of 
almost any one in Western New York, and he was often called 
in difficult cases, not only in Erie and the adjoining counties, 
but as far south as Pennsylvania. He was prominent, also, in 
political life, and showed himself in all respects a leader among 

In 1820 the first daily mail was established between Buffalo 
and Albany. The year was also noteworthy for the holding of the 
first agricultural fair, an important event in those days. It was 
under the management of the Niagara County Agricultural 
Society, which had been organized the fall before. 

Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, who had been little heard of for a long 
time, was its president. The vice-presidents were Arthur Hum- 
phrey, Asher Saxton, Ebenezer Goodrich, Ebenezer Walden 
and James Cronk ; the secretary was Joseph W. Moulton ; the 
treasurer, Reuben B. Heacock ; and the auditor, Heman B. 

There was also a board of town-managers, consisting of three 
' in each town, which may be presumed to have comprised some 
of the leading men, especially farmers, in their respective local- 
ities. These were Elias Ransom, Adial Sherwood and Elijah 
Leach, of Buffalo ; William W. Morseman, David Eddy and 
Abner Wilson, of Hamburg ; Isaac Phelps, Jr., Jonathan Bowen 
and Ephraim Woodruff of Aurora ; Richard Buffum, Asa Crook 
and Samuel Corliss, of Holland ; Ethan Allen, Ebenezer 
Holmes and Henry B. Stevens, of Wales; John Hill, Benjamin 
Bowen and John March, of Eden ; Belden Slosson, Alexander 
Hitchcock and Abram Miller, of Amherst; L. Parmely, M. Cary 
and Daniel Swain, of Boston. I can find no representation of 
either Clarence or Concord. 

The list of premiums offered is noticeable for some seldom 


found on modern catalogues — which in fact would hardly find 
takers if offered. As for instance — for the best fifteen yards of 
woolen cloth, "made in the family," ten dollars ; which is as 
large as the premium offered for the best two acres of wheat. 
For the best worsted cloth, "made in the family," six dollars. 
For the best fine linen, " made in the family,'' six dollars. 

For a long time the fair of the Agricultural Society was one 
of the great events of the year. Everybody, high and low, at- 
tended, and the proceedings were closed with a ball, which was 
graced by whatever of aristocracy was to be found in the 

The first Episcopal church-building, and the third of any 
kind in the county, was St. Paul's. The society of that name, 
at Buffalo, erected a neat edifice in 1820, with a gothic tower 
and spire, which was consecrated by Bishop Hobart the next 

Almost an entire new set of officers was appointed in Feb- 
ruary, 1 82 1. Samuel Wilkeson was made first judge of the 
Common Pleas, and Samuel Russell, Belden Slosson, Robert 
Fleming and Henry M. Campbell, judges. John G. Camp was 
appointed sheriff ; Roswell Chapin, surrogate ; and James L. 
Barton, county clerk. 

The selection of Mr. Wilkeson for the office of "first judge " 
had been strongly opposed by some, on the ground that he was 
not an attorney. He was, however, earnestly supported by his 
friends, and after his appointment his native common sense, 
firmness and diligence enabled him to fulfill his duties accepta- 
bly to the community. 

By the census of 1820 the population of the whole of Ni- 
agara county was 23,313, of which 15,668 were in the present 
county of Erie. These numbers were considered sufficient to 
justify a division, and the northern part of the county was anx- 
ious to have its business transacted nearer home than Buffalo ; 
a desire which was gratified by the legislature of 1 821. 

Just before the division of the county, three new towns were 
created. By a law of the i6th of March, 182 1, all that part of 
Eden comprised in township Eight, range Nine, was formed into 
a new town named Evans. This was a little larger than an or- 
dinary township, being nearly nine miles east and west on its 


southern boundary, and thence narrowed by the lake to about 
four miles and a half on its northern boundary. 

By the same law the excessively long town of Concord was 
subdivided into three towns. That part comprised in townships 
Six and Seven, range Eight, and in three tiers of lots on the 
west side of townships Six and Seven, range Seven, was formed 
into a new town named Collins. That part comprised in town- 
ship Seven, range Five, and three tiers of lots on the east side of 
township Seven, range Six, and in the portion of township Six, 
range Six, north of Cattaraugus creek, was formed into a new 
town named Sardinia. 

Collins was named by Turner Aldrich, the most prominent 
of the old settlers, after his wife's maiden name. General Nott 
states in his reminiscences that he named Sardinia after his favor- 
ite psalm-tune. He says that " Concord," " Wales " and " Sar- 
dinia " were all well known tunes in the old psalm-book, " Sar- 
dinia" being his especial delight. Seeing that "Wales" and 
" Concord " were immortalized by their names being given to 
towns, he determined that his own favorite should receive equal 
glory. So he claimed his privilege as the oldest resident, and 
succeeded in getting the new town named Sardinia. 




The New County. — Niagara Perpetuated .—Change of Characteristics.— Change of 
Names.— White's Corners.— Abbott's Corners.— A Blacli Wolf.— An Effect- 
ive Blow.— A Curious Couple.— A Wolf 's Strategy.— Trapped and Slain.— 
An Impromptu Gallows. — Pigeons. — Black Rock. — Condition of Buffalo. — 
Some of its Lawyers. — Anecdotes of John Root. 

On the second day of April, 1821, a law was passed, enacting 
that all that part of the county of Niagara north of the center 
of Tonawanda creek should be a separate county, by the name 
of Niagara, while the remainder should thenceforth be known 
as Erie. 

Thus at length was formed and named the great county, the 
annals of which I have the honor to record. It had the bound- 
aries specified in the first chapter, and those boundaries it has 
ever since retained. 

As stated in chapter eighteen, the old county of Niagara was 
perpetuated in most respects in the county of Erie rather than 
in the one that bore the ancient name, since the former retained 
more than half the area, two thirds of the population, the 
county seat, the county records and most of the county officers. 
In every respect except the name, Erie is a continuation of old 
Niagara, organized in 1808, while the present Niagara is a new 
county, organized in 1821. 

Doubtless the reason for giving the old name to the smaller 
and less important county was because the great cataract, which 
makes Niagara's name renowned, was on its borders, and it was 
felt that there would be an incongruity in conferring the name 
on a county which, at its nearest point, was three miles distant 
from the famous Falls. (Even this is probably nearer than most 
people suppose, but it is a trifle less than three miles from the 
cataract to the lower end of Buckhorn island.) 

The reader and the author have now arrived at a turning point 
in the history of the county. Not only was its name changed, 


but it so happens that that change is very closely identical in 
time with an important change in its general character. Hith- 
erto it had been a pioneer county. Henceforth it might fairly 
be called a farming county. 

There was no particular year that could be selected as the 
epoch of change, but 182 1 comes very close to the time. Previ- 
ously the principal business had been to clear up land. As a 
general rule, there was little money with which to build comfort- 
able houses, little time even to raise large crops, except in a few 
localities. After a time not far from 1821, although there was 
still a great deal of land-clearing done, yet it could not be called 
the principal business of the county. 

The raising of cattle and grain for market assumed greater im- 
portance, and in fact from that time forward, the county taken as 
a whole, though still a newish country, would hardly be called a 
new country. Yet there were a few townships almost entirely 
covered with forest, and everywhere the characteristics of the 
pioneer era were closely intermingled with those of a more ad- 
vanced period. 

Probably the most conspicuous manner in which the change 
was manifested to the eye was by the material of the houses. 
Hitherto, log houses had been the dwelling-places of nearly all 
the people outside of the village of Buffalo. Even the little vil- 
lages, which had sprung up in almost every township, were 
largely composed of those specimens of primeval architecture. 

But with improved circumstances came improved buildings. 
After the time in question, a majority of the new houses erected 
in the county were frames, and every year saw a rapid increase 
in the proportion of that class of buildings over the log edifices 
of earlier days. 

When Erie county was named it contained thirteen towns. 
At that time there were but ten post-offices in it, but there 
were several others established a little later. The ten were situ- 
ated at Buffalo, Black Rock, Williamsville, Clarence, Willink, 
Smithville, Barkersville, Boston, Springville, and Eden. The 
Eden post-office, as has been said, was in Evans, on the lake 
shore. That of " Barkersville " was at the old Barker stand in 
Hamburg, at the " head of the turnpike." " Willink " was at 
Aurora village. 

white's corners, ABBOTT'S CORNERS, ETC. 337 

Besides these there had been one, and probably there was still 
one, called "Hamburg," at John Green's tavern. 

Although the post-office at what is now Hamburg village had 
been called "Smithville," yet the name never stuck, and even the 
old one of " Smith's Mills " began to fade away. Thomas T. 
White had lately settled at that point, engaging heavily in busi- 
ness, the Smiths had sold their mills to other parties, and ere 
long the place began to be known as " White's Corners." This 
was its only name for over forty years, and it is still generally 
known by it, notwithstanding its present legal title, "Hamburg." 

Mr. Seth Abbott also moved to the place previously known 
as " Wright's Corners," not far from this time, and built a large 
public house there. His son, Henry Abbott, engaged in trade 
there, the old name fell into use, and for over half a century the 
little village has been known only as Abbott's Corners. 

At most of the post-offices mentioned, there was the nucleus 
of a village, but there was none at " Barkersville," nor at the 
" Eden " post-office, in Evans. Whatever of metropolitan pos- 
sibilities there were in the latter town manifested themselves at 
"Wright's Mills," which ere long began to be called "Evans 
Center," but where there was as yet no post-office. 

There were also the nuclei of villages, but without post-offices, 
at " Cayuga Creek" (Lancaster), Alden, Hall's Mills (or Hall's 
Hollow), Holland, Griffin's Mills, East Hamburg and Gowanda. 

Notwithstanding these signs of improvement, and the general 
transformation of the county from a land-clearing to a land- 
tilling district, the farmers met with incessant discouragement. 
Keeping sheep was their especial difficulty, yet sheep must be 
kept, for there was no money to buy clothes. The wolves were 
almost as troublesome in peace as the Indians in war. 

Besides the gray-backed prowlers, an occasional bold, black 
wolf was seen, though very rarely. One, which had killed over 
fifty sheep in Lancaster, came into the open fields within a fur- 
long of Mr. Clark's house in the day time, and caught another. 
Young James Clark and his brother saw the raid but were un- 
able to prevent its successful execution. They, however, set a 
trap for the dark slayer, and had the good fortune to catch him. 

The bounty then was ten dollars. Afterwards it was, in some 
towns, from sixty to ninety dollars ; whelps half-price. An 


Indian is reported to have made $360 in one forenoon, catching 
young wolves. It was generally supposed that many hunters, 
both Indians and whites, were in the habit of letting old she- 
wolves escape — in fact of guarding against their discovery by 
others — in order to get an annual revenue from the whelps. In 
this case it was the wolf that laid the golden eggs. 

On several occasions the citizens in different parts of the 
county got up grand wolf-hunts, forming long lines and beating 
the woods for miles, or trying to enclose them in circles, but I 
have heard of none that were successful. The " Anaconda Sys- 
tem " did not work any better then than in later years. The 
wily marauders always found a loop-hole of escape. 

While these elaborate preparations usually failed, one of these 
public enemies was frequently slain by the simplest means. A 
Mr. Patterson, living a little south of Mr. Oren Treat's, in Aurora, 
is said by that gentleman and others to have killed one, near 
1820, at a single blow. Hearing a noise in a kind of outside pan- 
try attached to his house, he picked up an unloaded gun and • 
ran out. A big wolf jumped out of the pantry window. With 
all his might Patterson struck him with the breech of his gun, 
and his wolfship fell to the ground. On bringing a light the 
old musket was found to be broken short off at the breech, and 
the wolf lay stone dead ; the single, well-directed blow having 
broken his neck. 

But the most remarkable of these primitive raiders, and the 
only one for whose exploits I have further room, was an old she- 
wolf which infested the territory of Collins and North Collins. 
According to Messrs. Wheeler and Hale before mentioned, Mr. 
George Southwick, of Gowanda, and others, she was a marauder 
of most surprising intelligence and accomplishments. 

In that she slaughtered sheep, she was like the rest of her 
race. But her especial forte was to form an intimate acquaint- 
ance with most of the large dogs of the vicinity. Those that 
she could not tempt into forbidden paths she fought with and 
whipped, and thus she was mistress of the situation so far as 
the canine race was concerned. 

Her most particular friend was a dog belonging to Levi 
Woodward, in the present town of North Collins. This canine 
Antony and lupine Cleopatra would roam the fields at night 


in company, killing sheep by the dozen, and retire to the swamps 
in the day-time. Frequently a number of men would turn out 
and follow them, but without avail, and they would perhaps 
come back the very next night and kill more sheep. 

The dog occasionally came around his master's house, but it 
was thought best not to kill him, as it was hoped he might be 
used to cause the destruction of the more dangerous offender. 
So a bell was put on him, and he was left to seek the company 
of his mistress, the project being that when that bell was heard 
at night some one should get up and kill the wolf 

But she would never go by a house in his company. The bell 
has been heard coining along a road, toward a lonely house, 
when the owner would arise and wait, with loaded rifle, the ap- 
pearance of the great marauder. But presently the dog would 
go trotting along, alone. The next morning it would be seen by 
the tracks that, while the dog trotted carelessly by, the wolf had 
gotten over the fence some distance from the house, gone around, 
and reentered the road on the other side. 

At length the people of the neighborhood three miles south- 
ward from North Collins became satisfied that she had a litter 
of whelps in the vicinity, and thought they could at least cap- 
ture them, even if the old one was too much for them. They 
made up a company of fourteen, which searched the woods 
until at length the prize was found in a lair made in the boughs 
of a basswood, which had been felled for browse. 

Seven puppy-whelps, half-dog, half-wolf, were taken from the 
lair, and just as the last one was drawn out, the maternal head 
of the family put in an appearance, a short distance away. The 
men seized their guns, but, ere one of them could take aim, the 
madam comprehended the situation and vanished in the forest. 

The scalps of her unfortunate family were taken to Springville, 
and thirty dollars apiece received for them from the proper offi- 
cials, sixty dollars being the bounty on full-grown wolves. 
Young Hale, who was one of the party of fourteen, received 
fifteen dollars for his share. Since the whelps were only half- 
wolf, a question might have been raised by casuists as to whether 
the captors were entitled to more than half the usual bounty, 
but since both father and mother were sheep-killers, probably 
the officials thought the spirit of the law was complied with. 


Madam Wolf did not return to that neighborhood, but estab- 
Hshed herself on the farm of Samuel Tucker, about a mile 
from North Collins, and began to make her accustomed raids. 
Mr. T. determined to ensnare her, but knew that she had. always 
avoided traps with remarkable skill, and therefore took extra 
precautions. Having killed a calf, he placed a part of it in a corn- 
field, putting in the midst of the bait a common fox -trap which 
had been dipped in melted tallow, and heavily coated with that 
material. This destroyed the smell of the iron, and the gray 
depredator was at last outwitted and caught. A heavy clog 
being attached to the trap, she was unable to drag it away, 
and daylight revealed her misfortune to her enemies. 

Word was sent out, and the men and boys from miles around 
assembled to see the dreaded foe of the sheepfold. She was 
slain amid universal rejoicing, and Mr. Tucker received sixty 
dollars for her scalp. 

Her canine friend met with a still more ignominious fate. One 
Sunday he ventured to approach a house whence all the family 
had gone to a Quaker meeting, save one woman. Recognizing 
the sheep-slayer, she determined on his destruction, but having 
no fire-arms, or not knowing how to use them, she was obliged 
to depend on strategy. 

First she arranged a rope into a slip-noose. Next she pulled 
down the long, heavy well-sweep and fastened it to the curb. 
Then giving the dog some food, she invited him up to the well, 
managed to slip the noose over his neck, fastened it to the small 
end of the sweep, and loosened the sweep from the curb. The 
heavy end went down with a rush, and in an instant the sheep- 
killer was hanging a dozen feet above the ground. 

Besides the four-footed wild game, pigeons were a frequent 
resource in their season, especially for the Indians. Not merely 
the few that can be shot as they fly, but the vast numbers that 
can be obtained from their nests. The banks of the Cattarau- 
gus were celebrated as their resorts, and a little west of Spring- 
ville, on both sides of the creek, there were millions of nests. 

The whole tribe used to go out from Buffalo creek to get a 
supply. They were obtained by cutting down the trees, and of 
this, as of all other work, the squaws at that time did the greater 
part. Mr. C. C. Smith, of Springville, says he has seen the 


squaws cut down trees from two to three feet through, getting 
fifty or sixty nests from one tree. Each nest contained a single 
"squab," that is a fat young pigeon, big enough to eat, but not 
big enough to fly. Occasionally, but very rarely, there were two 
in a nest. These were scalded, salted and dried by the thou- 
sand, furni.shing food most acceptable to the Indians and not 
despised by the whites. 

While the country was thus divided between raising crops, 
starting villages and hunting game, the embryo city at the head 
of the Niagara was beginning to make rapid progress. At the 
time of the formation of Erie county it had nearly two thousand 

Black Rock, too, which had long remained an insignificant 
hamlet, was now rapidly advancing, and was making desperate 
eflforts to secure the termination of the grand canal. General 
Porter had returned home from his work of locating the inter- 
national boundary, had resumed a portion of his former influ- 
ence, and was the leader of the Black Rock forces in their con- 
test with Buffalo. 

As Black Rock still had the only harbor in the vicinity, as 
not a ship was built at, nor sailed from, any other American port 
within a hundred miles, her chances of success appeared good, 
and the little village grew even faster than Buff'alo. It was 
mostly situated on Niagara street, at the foot of the hill north 
of the site of Fort Porter. 

In Buffalo, the main part of the business was transacted on 
Main street, between Crow (Exchange) street and the court- 
house park. There were also numerous residences in the same 
quarter. Other dwellings, more or less scattered, occupied parts 
of Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora streets, for these 
were still the appellations of the highways now known respect- 
ively as Ellicott, Washington, Pearl and Franklin. There were 
also a few dwellings on the cross-streets. The town was sup- 
posed to be rich enough, and the people gay enough, so that 
some one had built a place of entertainment called the Buff'alo 
Theater, but there are indications that it was not very largely 

Near Chippewa market there was a swampy place, and a 
gully carried its waters toward the river, crossing Main street 

342 THE BAR IN 1820. 

near Chippewa. All the northeastern part of the present city 
was low ground, unoccupied and untilled. Not far up Busti 
avenue (Genesee street) there was a log causeway, whither 
the girls and boys went in summer to pick the blackberries 
growing beside it. 

As far up as Cold Spring, an irregular line of forest came up to 
within from forty to a hundred rods of Main street. About this 
time, or a little later, after a grand squirrel-hunt, lasting all one day, 
the two parties of hunters, which had been led by two young 
lawyers, Frederick B. Merrill and Joseph Clary, met the next 
day to count their game at a spring near Delaware street, just 
north of Virginia. They selected that place because there the 
woods came from the west to Delaware street, affording a pleas- 
ant shade. 

Mr. Clary was a new addition to the Erie county bar, in which 
he afterwards took a fair rank. There were none as yet, how- 
ever, of that remarkable galaxy of lawyers who, fifteen years 
later, made the bar of Erie county celebrated throughout the 
State. Albert H. Tracy was probably the peer in intellect of 
any of them, but he devoted himself largely to politics, and 
seldom appeared in the legal arena. 

Potter, Walden, Harrison, Sheldon, Clary, Moseley, Moulton, 
and "Old Counselor Root" were the leading practitioners. 
Sheldon Smith came a little later. Counselor John Root, a big, 
round-shouldered, slouching man, whose practice was beginning 
to decline on account of drink and idleness, was the " charac- 
ter" of the Erie county bar in 1820. Two-thirds of the jokes 
and sharp sayings related by the older members of the bar, are 
attributed to " Old Counselor Root." As in other cases of a similar 
kind, it is quite likely that he has been saddled with more than 
is really chargeable to him, but there is no doubt of his great 
readiness in repartee and tact in management. 

H. W. Rogers, Esq., has collected a number of anecdotes of 
Mr. Root, in his essay before the Historical Society, entitled, 
" Wits of the Buffalo Bar." Some of them I will transfer into 
this " Miscellaneous " chapter, to give a side-light on the men 
and manners of half a century ago. 

He was not inclined to spare even the court, and on one occa- 
sion, when somewhat excited by liquor, in commenting on an 


adverse decision of the judge, he declared that it could only be 
compared with the celebrated decree of Pontius Pilate. 

"Sit down, Mr. Root, sit down," angrily exclaimed the judge; 
" you are drunk, sir." The old counselor slowly sank into his 
chair, saying, in rather low tones, but loud enough to be heard 
by all around : 

" That is the only correct decision your honor has made 
during the whole term." The court and bar were compelled to 
laugh, and Root escaped without further censure. 

Some time afterwards a young lawyer, who perhaps thought 
he could be as brusque before the court as the old counselor, re- 
ceived an unfavorable decision with the indignant exclamation 
that he was astonished at the judgment of the court. He was 
immediately arraigned for contempt. Finding himself in trouble, 
he besought Root to help him. 

The latter drew himself up to the utmost of his great height, 
and, in the most solemn and dignified manner, besought the 
court to pardon the offender. 

" I know," said he, " that our brother is to blame. But he is 
young — quite young. If he had been at this bar as long as I 
have, your honor, he would long since have ceased to be aston- 
ished at any decision which this honorable court might make." 

The Court of Common Pleas, in the absence of its first judge, 
was once held by the senior side-judge. Not being overstocked 
with brains, and being entirely without experience as a presiding 
judge, business dragged sadly under his administration. The 
lawyers made irrelevant motions and interminable speeches, and 
the court was powerless to control them. One morning the 
temporary presiding judge and several lawyers, among whom 
was Root, met in the court-house hall, just before the time for 
opening court. Something was said about the slowness of the 
proceedings, when the judge observed: "I only wish some way 
could be devised for shortening the lawyers' tongues." 

"Perhaps, your honor," said the old counselor quietly, "the 
same object could be effected by shortening the judges' ears." 

In those times a charivari, or "horning," was the frequent 
accompaniment of a wedding. On one occasion, occurring in 
Amherst or Clarence, the father and brothers of the bride re- 
sented the advent of the discordant crowd around their home by 


firing on them with guns loaded with peas, wounding two or 
three of the number. For this they were duly indicted and 
brought to trial. Counselor Root defended them. 

One of the wounded persons, a rough, unkempt-looking fellow, 
testified to the shooting, and to being hit with peas in the calf 
of the leg. On the cross-examination, Root insisted that he 
should pull up the leg of his pantaloons and show where he was 
shot. The witness hesitated but did as requested, displaying a 
limb thickly covered with dirt. It looked as if it had never 
known the use of soap or water. 

"There" said he, pointing to a spot even more thickly in- 
crusted than the rest, "is where the peas went in." 

"And when," queried Root, "did the shooting occur.'" 

"About six weeks ago," replied the witness. 

"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed the counselor, "if there had been 
any peas planted in that soil six weeks ago, they would have 
been four inches high by this time!" 



1821 TO 1824. 

Official and Postal. — Military and Journalistic. — Dramatic Scenes. — Kauquatau 
Condemned. — The Flight and the Return. — The Wiles of S6-onongise. — The 
Execution. — The Arrest. — A Primitive Court-room. — The Trial. — Red 
Jacket's Philippic. — Impotent Conclusion.— Ellicott's Resignation. —The Old- 
est Physician. — A Sardinia Merchant. — Buffalo Harbor. — Ingenious Channel- 
Cutting. — A Warlike Pile-driver.— of the Walk-in-the- Water. — A Haz- 
ardous Bond. — First Work on the Canal. — New Constitution. — Officers under 
it. — Other Officials. — Millard Fillmore. — A Vigorous Race. — Alden and 
Krie. — "Cayuga Creek." — Beginning at Tonawanda. — Other Matters. — An 
Uneventful Year. — Easier Payments. 

In the spring of 1821 Judge Forward was elected to the State 
senate, but neither of the two assemblymen from this district 
were residents of Erie county. Roswell Chapin was appointed 
surrogate in place of Dr. Johnson. Later in the season Samuel 
Russell was chosen a delegate to the State constitutional con- 
vention. The supervisors for the year, so far as known, were 
Ebenezer Walden of Buffalo, Oziel Smith of Amherst, O. R. 
Hopkins of Clarence, Ebenezer Holmes of Wales, Lemuel 
Wasson of Hamburg, James Green of Eden, John Twining of 
Boston, Mitchell Corliss of Holland, Elihu Rice of Sardinia, 
and John Lawton of Collins. 

A new post-office was established during the year at East 
Hamburg, with Lewis Arnold as postmaster, and one at Wales, 
with Wm. A. Burt as postmaster. The latter gentleman had pre- 
viously begun the business of merchandising in Wales, by sell- 
ing a few goods in his house, according to the custom before 
spoken of From one of the "military commissions" so fre- 
quently published at this era, one learns that in 1821, Abner 
Currier, of Holland, was made colonel, and Josiah Emery, of 
Aurora, lieutenant-colonel, of the 170th regiment of infantry; 
Hiram Yaw, of Boston, colonel of the 48th regiment, and 
Robert Kerr, lieutenant-colonel. About this time Truman 
Cary resigned a commission as lieutenant-colonel. Necessarily, 



I mention only the officers of whom there happens to be a record. 
Frederick Richmond, of Springville, was a brigadier-general 
about the same time. 

The change of name of the county made it necessary for the 
two newspapers in it to drop their old appellations. So the Ni- 
agara Patriot (whilom the Buffalo Gazette) became the Buffalo 
Patriot, and the Niagara Journal, the Buffalo Journal. 

Scarcely had the county of Erie entered on its separate career, 
when there occurred within its limits a series of events of start- 
ling and dramatic character, which show as vividly as anything 
in American history how closely civilization treads upon the 
footsteps of barbarism — how narrow in our country is the space 
which separates the bloody rites of the savage council from the 
stately deliberations of the Anglo-Saxon tribunal. The facts in 
the case are derived from Stone's Life of Red Jacket, the papers 
of the period, and the reminiscences of Mr. James Aigin. 

In the spring of 182 1 a Seneca Indian died of some lingering 
disease, the nature of which was incomprehensible by the medi- 
cine-men. They accordingly attributed it to sorcery, and desig- 
nated as the culprit a squaw named Kauquatau, who had nursed 
the deceased during his sickness. 

A council was assembled, and, after such evidence as the case 
admitted of, Kauquatau was solemnly pronounced guilty, and 
sentenced to death. The frightened woman fled to Canada. 
The Indians were shrewd enough not to attempt her execution 
there, nor even in the United States, off from their own reserva- 
tion. Some of them followed her to Canada, and by some 
means, doubtless by false promises of security, persuaded her to 
recross the Niagara. 

Among her betrayers was the chief, So-onongise, commonly 
called by the whites Tommy Jimmy, who had been secretly ap- 
pointed her executioner. On the second day of May, Mr. Aigin 
states that he saw Tommy Jimmy treating Kauquatau from a 
bottle of whisky, in the streets of Buffalo. The blandishments 
of the chieftain and the quality of his liquor were too much for 
poor Kauquatau, and toward night she accompanied her pre- 
tended friend across the reservation line, which, as will be re- 
membered, ran close to the village. 

No sooner had she done so than the friend disappeared and the 


executioner showed himself. Drawing his knife, Tommy Jimmy 
seized the wretched woman and cut her throat, killing her on 
the instant. Then, leaving her on the ground where he had slain 
her, making no attempt to conceal the body, he strode off to the 
Indian village, doubtless feeling that he had done his country 
good service. 

The next morning she was found by the whites, lying near 
Buffalo creek, only a short distance above Pratt's ferry. A cor- 
oner's inquest was held, and, as the Indians made no conceal- 
ment, it was easily ascertained that Tommy Jimmy was the 
murderer. It appears to have been the first event of the kind 
which had become known in Erie county, though Mary Jem- 
ison says there was scarcely a year passed, while the tribe 
lived on the Genesee, that one or more persons (generally wo- 
men) were not killed as witches. The claim of sovereignty 
over the reservation, set up by the Indians, did not reconcile the 
whites to the shocking occurrence, and it was determined to 
bring the slayer to trial. 

Stephen G. Austin, then a young lawyer and justice of the 
peace, issued a warrant. The constable to whom it was first 
given objected to going out among a tribe of savages to arrest 
one of their most popular chiefs, and Pascal P. Pratt, uncle of 
the gentleman who now bears that name, was deputized for the 
purpose. He was well acquainted with Tommy Jimmy and 
was a particular friend of Red Jacket. 

Pratt found the culprit at the house of the orator. Making- 
known his mission, he advised them to yield peacefully, and 
make whatever defense they might have, before the courts. 
Red Jacket pledged himself that Tommy Jimmy should appear 
before Austin the next day, and Pratt departed, perfectly satis- 
fied that he would come. 

Punctually, at the hour appointed, Sagoyewatha and So-onon- 
gise came before the young justice of the peace, accompanied 
by a crowd of other Indians. The whites, also, gathered in 
numbers, and, as Austin's office was small, he held his court on 
a pile of timber across the road from it. The slaying was ad- 
mitted, the jurisdiction of the whites denied, and the victim de- 
clared to be a witch, executed in accordance with Indian law. 
Austin, however, committed the slayer to jail, to take his trial 
in a higher court. 


So-onongise, alias Tommy Jimmy, was duly indicted for 
murder. The Indians obtained the assistance of able counsel, 
who put in a plea to the jurisdiction of the court, claiming that 
Kauquatau was executed in accordance with Indian law, on Irt- 
dian land. This was denied by the district-attorney, and the 
question was sent to a jury for trial. 

Thus it was that at the Erie county Oyer and Terminer, in 
June, 1821, there occurred one of the most singular trials re- 
corded in legal annals. The court-house was crowded by a 
motley throng of red men and white men, the latter drawn by 
curiosity, the former by intense interest in the fate of their 
brother, and intense anxiety regarding their own privileges. All 
the lights of the Buffalo bar were there, eager to know how this 
curious legal complication would result. 

Tommy Jimmy, a middle-aged and fairly intelligent Indian, 
though the center of observation, sat perfectly unmoved, and 
doubtless considered himself a martyr. By his side was Red 
Jacket, acting as amateur counsel, and wearing his stateliest de- 
meanor. He still had sufficient self-control to force himself into 
a few days sobriety on great occasions, and was in full posses- 
sion of his faculties. When the jurors were called he scanned 
every man with his piercing eye, formed his opinion as to his 
bias, and communicated to the regular counsel his decision in 
favor of acceptance or rejection. 

After several other witnesses had been sworn. Red Jacket was 
put on the stand by the counsel for the accused. The prosecut- 
ing attorney sought to exclude him by inquiring if he believed 
in a God. 

"More truly than one who could ask me such a question," was 
his haughty reply. 

When asked what rank he held in his nation, he answered 
contemptuously : 

"Look at the papers which the white people keep the most 
carefully ; they will tell you what I am." He referred to the 
treaties which ceded the Indian lands to the whites. 

Like the other Indians he testified that the woman had been 
condemned by a regular council, in accordance with immemo- 
rial law, and that So-onongise had been duly authorized to exe- 
cute the decree. Seeing, or imagining, that some of the lawyers 

RED jacket's philippic. 349 

were disposed to ridicule his views of witchcraft, he broke out 
in a fierce phiHppic, which, as interpreted, was thus published 
in the Albany Argus, one of whose editors was present : 

"What ! Do you denounce us as fools and bigots because we 
still believe what you yourselves believed two centuries ago ? 
Your black-coats thundered this doctrine from the pulpit, your 
judges pronounced it from the bench, and sanctioned it with the 
formalities of law ; and would you now punish our unfortunate 
brother for adhering to the faith of his fathers and of yours ? 
Go to Salem ! Look at the records of your own government, 
and you will find that thousands have been executed for the 
very crime which has called forth the sentence of condemna- 
tion against this woman, and drawn down upon her the arm of 
vengeance. What have our brothers done more than the rulers 
of your people .' And what crime has this man committed, by 
executing in a summary way the laws of his country and the 
command of the Great Spirit .'" 

As Red Jacket had certainly not read the story of Salem 
witchcraft, he must have informed himself by conversation be- 
fore the trial, doubtless for the express purpose of making a 
well-studied point against the pale-faces. His appearance as 
he delivered his philippic, his tall form drawn up to its utmost 
height, his head erect and his black eye flashing with ire, is said 
to have been impressive in the extreme. 

On the question of fact submitted to them, the jury found 
that Kauquatau was really executed in accordance with Indian 
law. The legal question still remained as to whether this would 
exempt him from punishment. The case was removed by certio- 
rari to the Supreme Court, where it was argued the ensuing 
August. The result was a most lame and impotent conclusion 
of so dramatic a trial. No judgment was rendered. The court, 
being unable to deny that the Indians had from the beginning 
been recognized to a certain extent as independent peoples, and 
yet unwilling to decide that they had absolute authority to com- 
mit murder, permitted the discharge of the prisoner by the 
consent of the attorney-general. 

Laws were afterwards passed, subjecting the Indians to the 
same penalties for" crimes as the whites. 

In the autumn of 1821 Joseph Ellicott, the founder of Buf- 
falo, resigned the local agency of the Holland Company, which 
he had held for twenty-one years. There had been considerable 

350 ellicott's retirement. 

dissatisfaction on the part of the settlers, during the latter 
years of his administration, but it principally originated in the 
difficulty of keeping up the payments on their lands, in the hard 
times succeeding the war. Probably the chief fault of the com- 
pany and its agents was in permitting men to buy large tracts 
without any substantial payment in advance, and in letting 
the occupants get so far in arrears as they did during the first 
ten or fifteen years. There is nothing like a steady, gentle pres- 
sure to stimulate industry and compel frugality. Mr. E.'s mind 
was still clear, but he had already developed that tendency 
toward hypochondria which, after five years of inaction, led to 
the insanity and final suicide of one who had been for two de- 
cades the most influential man in Western New York. Jacob 
S. Otto, of Philadelphia, took his place as local agent. 

Among the new comers was one who has had an exceptional 
career. Dr. George Sweetland, then about twenty-three years 
old, located himself, in 1821, in the woods where now stands the 
little village of East Evans, and began practicing as a physi- 
cian. During all the fifty-five years since that time he has re- 
mained at the same place, engaged in the duties of his profes- 
sion, being now the oldest and earliest practitioner in Erie 
county. In the earlier part of his professional career, he fre- 
quently visited Eden, Hamburg and Collins, riding on horse- 
back as was the wont of country doctors. Sometimes, when the 
roads were at their worst, he took his saddle-bags on his arm, 
and went on foot five or six miles to visit a patient. Now, of 
course, his range is more circumscribed, but he still bravely up- 
holds the banner of Esculapius, which he unfurled fifty-five 
years ago. 

In the same year Chauncey Hastings opened the first store 
in what is now Sardinia village, and the first of any consequence 
in the town. There were then but three houses in the "village." 
He was the only merchant there for over twenty-five years. 
Afterwards he built a hotel which he kept for an equal length 
of time, being, as may easily be seen, the principal business man 
of the town. 

As soon as spring opened in 1821, superintendent Wilkeson 
recommenced work on the Buffalo harbor. The mouth of the 
creek was sixty rods north of where it now is, the stream run- 


ning for that distance near\v parallel w'th 'he lake. The ridge 
between them was found to be of grave!, so solid that it could 
not be removed, (as was necessary to maite l -"^w mouth and a 
straight channel,) by manual labor, without immense expense. 
The method adopted was so ingenious as to be worthy of es- 
pecial mention. 

A stout dam was built the creek just below where it 
turned to the north. Then a small opening was made in the gravel 
at the end of the dam next the lake, when the imprisoned water 
rushed around it, tearing out a great hole in the ridge. Then 
the dam was advanced still further westward, and the stream re- 
moved more gravel. The process was repeated until a straight 
channel, large enough for small vessels, was cut clear through 
into the lake. 

In this and other parts of the work it was absolutely neces- 
sary to have a pile-driver, and impossible to get one of the 
usual make. So one was improvised for the occasion, the ham- 
mer being composed of an old mortar which had been used in 
the war of 18 12. The trunnions were knocked off, and it served 
the needs of peace better, I am afraid, than it had those of war. 

The harbor was completed in the summer of 182 1, two hun- 
dred and twenty-one working days having been occupied in its 

In November, Lake Erie lost the pioneer of her steam-marine, 
the solitary and celebrated Walk-in-the-Water. Having just 
left Black Rock one afternoon, and being struck by a squall 
about four miles above Bird Island, she lay at anchor all night, 
and the next morning was driven ashore near the light-house. 
No lives were lost, but the Walk-in-the-Water had sustained 
such serious injuries that she ceased forever from her aquatic 

Step.s, however, were immediately taken to supply her place; 
and in January, 1822, an agent of an eastern company came on to 
select a place to build a new steamer, and make a contract for 
the same. He was directed to build at Buffalo, unless he should 
be satisfied that its harbor was not available. He went to Black 
Rock first, and its people soon satisfied him that the new harbor 
was useless, laying especial stress on the assertion that it would 
remain filled with ice after the lake was clear in the spring. The 


agent thereupon made arrangements to build at Black Rock, 
and went to Buffalo to have the papers drawn. 

The Buffalonians heard what was going on, and an excited 
crowd gathered around the hotel where he was staying. To 
have it decided that their harbor was not fit to build a steam- 
boat in might be ruinous. It was rumored that the agent was 
about to return east the next morning, and no time was to be 
lost. Judge Wilkeson was deputed to wait on him. His only 
instructions were to get the steamboat. 

"Make any arrangement you think necessary," said the citi- 
zens, "and we will stand by you." 

The committee of one entered the agent's room, introduced 
himself, and asked why he did not propose to build at Buffalo, 
as his principals expected. That gentleman gave the reasons 
which had prompted his action, naming especially the danger 
that the steamer would be detained by ice. Wilkeson promptly 
replied : 

"We will furnish timber at a quarter less than Black Rock 
prices, and give a judgment-bond with ample security, provid- 
ing for the payment of a hundred and fifty dollars for every 
day the boat shall be detained in the creek, beyond the first of 

The offer was at once accepted, the necessary arrangements 
were made, a contractor was found for the timber, and the bond 
agreed upon was signed by nearly every responsible citizen. 
The building of the vessel soon began, and went steadily forward. 

As spring approached the citizens looked for a freshet to clear 
out the loose sand, gravel, etc., which still remained in the har- 
bor. A freshet did come, but, as there was a large bank of ice 
at the new mouth of the creek, the high water carried an im- 
mense amount of sediment upon it, making a formidable dam. 
Several expedients were tried for removing it, but without avail 

Meanwhile the first of May was approaching. At length it 
was evident that extraordinary exertions must be made, or the 
citizens would be saddled with a bill for damages on their bond, 
which at that time would have been enormous. A subscription 
of $1,361 was raised ; a little in cash, the rest in goods or labor. 
Dr. Johnson subscribed the largest sum, $110, "in goods at cash 
prices." The other amounts ranged from a hundred dollars 


down to two. One man subscribed " a certain brown cow with 
a white head, to be appraised by the harbor commissioners." 

By the energetic use of the aid thus provided, a channel was 
cut through by the ist of May. On that day the steamboat, 
which had been named the "Superior,'' went down to test it. The 
work was still incomplete and the channel dangerous, but the 
pilot was a Buffalonian who thoroughly understood the track ; 
he took the Superior safely through and the bond was cancelled. 

All this while there had been a continuous contest between 
the Bufifalonians and Black Rockers, to influence the canal com- 
missioners in the selection of a terminus. The Black Rock 
men also built a pier to enclose a harbor, and General Porter's 
influence was strong in favor of his village. In this as in other 
contests Judge Wilkeson led the Bufifalonians, and his arguments 
before the commissioners and other officials, though perhaps 
lacking in grace, and delivered with all the energy of the most 
energetic of men, went straight to the point and were eminently 

At length the controversy was decided in favor of Buffalo, 
and on the gth of August, 1823, work on the grand canal was 
begun in Erie county. Ground was broken near the Commer- 
cial-street bridge, in Buffalo. There was of course a celebration, 
including procession, speech-making, etc. The assembled crowd 
were so eagerly interested in the great work that they did not 
content themselves with the formal removal of a few spadefuls, 
but fell in procession behind the contractor's ploughs, and fol- 
lowed them for half a mile, with music playing and cannon 
firing. "Then," says the account, "they partook of a beverage 
furnished by the contractor," and afterwards dispersed with 
vociferous cheers. 

During the summer of 1822, a new State constitution was 
formed, and adopted by the people. By its provisions sheriffs 
and county clerks were to be elected by the people instead of 
appointed — each holding for three years. Justices of the peace 
and district-attorneys were appointed by the judges of the 
Common Pleas and the board of supervisors, acting conjointly. 
All other judicial officers were appointed by the governor and 
senate. Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties 
became the thirtieth congressional district, entitled to one 


member. At this time, too, tiie date of holding elections was 
changed from April to November. 

Accordingly, in the fall of 1822, Wray S. Littlefield, of Ham- 
burg, was elected sheriff, and Jacob A. Barker, of Buffalo, son 
of the pioneer judge, Zenas Barker, was chosen county clerk. 
At the same time Albert H. Tracy was elected to Congress for 
the third time. Considering that he was still on the sunny side 
of thirty, his success was something astonishing. Ebenezer F. 
Norton, a Buffalo lawyer, was chosen member of assembly, and 
about the same time Dr. Josiah Trowbridge was appointed a 
judge of the Common Pleas. The supervisors for 1822, the rec- 
ords of whose election have been preserved, were Ebenezer 
Walden of Buffalo, Oziel Smith of Amherst, Otis R. Hopkins 
of Clarence, Ebenezer Holmes of Wales, Lemuel Wasson of 
Hamburg, James Green of Eden, John Twining of Boston, 
Mitchell Corliss of Holland, Benoni Tuttle of Sardinia, and 
Henry Joslin of Collins. 

The military record shows no lack of epauletted gentlemen. 
The 17th regiment of cavalry was evidently a Buffalo institu- 
tion, of which, in 1822, S. K. Grosvenor was appointed colonel; 
David S. Conkey, lieutenant-colonel ; and Lucius Storns, major. 
Of the 13th regiment of infantry Orange Mansfield (of Clar- 
ence) was made colonel; Francis Lincoln, lieutenant-colonel; and 
George Stow, major. The same commission appointed Earl 
Sawyer, lieutenant-colonel, and Asa Wells, major, of the i8ist 
regiment of infantry. 

Several new post-offices were established this year. One was 
at Holland, with Lyman Clark as postmaster. One was in 
Collins, named Angola, (at Taylor's Hollow,) with Jacob Taylor, 
the old Quaker instructor of the Indians, as postmaster. 
There was already one in Evans, called Eden, in which town it 
had originally been included, and in this year there was one es- 
tablished in Eden, with John M. Welch for postmaster, which, 
by some blunder, was called Evans. These names were soon 
afterwards transposed so as to give each town a post-office of 
its own name. 

Col. Asa Warren removed to "Hill's Corners" in 1822, and 
built a large hotel, though in two or three years he gave up 
keeping it on account of scruples against selling liquor. This 


was about the time of the eadiest development of feeling on 
that subject. Fillmore & Johnson had a small store there a 
little later, the place began to take village shape, and people 
began to call it " Eden Corners." 

The allowance of three post-offices for the single town of 
Hamburg seems to have been thought altogether too extrava- 
gant by the department. So " East Hamburg," " Smithville " 
and " Barkersville " were all discontinued, and a new office, 
called " Hamburg," was established at Abbott's Corners, under 
Harry Abbott as postmaster, as stated in the journals of the 
day. The old office called " Hamburg," at John Green's tavern, 
must have been previously discontinued. Another post-office 
was also established in 1822, at "West Clarence," of which 
Simeon Fillmore was the first postmaster. 

Apropos of that name, it was in the spring of 1822 that a tall 
young man, of stalwart form, open countenance and pleasing 
demeanor, came from an eastern county and entered the law 
office of Joseph Clary. This was Millard Fillmore, the future 
President of the United States. Born in Cayuga county, at the 
very beginning of the century, he had passed his boyhood amid 
the privations of a backwoods farm, and had in early youth 
learned the trade of a clothier. Approaching man's estate, his 
aspiring mind had sought more congenial employment in the 
study of the law. A lawyer who appreciated his abilities gave 
him some assistance, and the young man supported himself 
partly by working at his trade, and partly by teaching a country 
school. Meanwhile his father, Nathaniel Fillmore, had emi- 
grated to Aurora in this county, about the same time that his 
(Nathaniel's) brother Calvin moved thither from Clarence. Mil- 
lard, as before stated, followed in 1822, and continued his law 
studies in Buffalo. 

AH of the elder Fillmores were men of powerful frame, and 
all had considerable local prominence, such as is often gained in 
country-towns by sensible though not highly educated men. 
Simeon was supervisor of Clarence several years. Calvin was a 
prominent local politician, a colonel of militia, and at one time 
a member of the assembly. Millard's father, Nathaniel, was less 
noted, but was for several years a justice of the peace, and was 
generally recognized as a man of unblemished integrity and 


sound judgment. Of Glezen Fillmore, the son of Simeon, I 
have spoken at some length before. 

Young Millard continued his studies through the summer, and 
in the winter taught a school at Cold Spring. It is said that the 
young school-teacher and law-student was recognized as a man 
of considerable ability, and that some of his admirers predicted 
that he would yet fill a seat in the State legislature ! In the 
spring of 1823 he was admitted to practice in the county court, 
and immediately opened an office at Aurora. He was the first 
lawyer in the county, outside of Buffalo and Black Rock. 

Another gentleman in the southern part of the county, whom 
I must mention on account of his prominence and his long pro- 
fessional career, was Dr. Carlos Emmons, who in 1823 settled 
at Springville. For nearly half a century he practiced his pro- 
fession there, besides filling many important positions, and only 
within the last year has he passed away from life. 

Early in that year the legislature erected two new towns from 
Clarence — Alden and Erie. The former occupied the same ter- 
ritory as now, with the nominal addition of part of the reserva- 
tion opposite. The name of the latter was afterwards changed 
to Newstead, and the existence of the previous town of Erie, 
which was formed in 1804 and obliterated in 1808, has caused 
remarkable confusion among the statisticians. All the gazet- 
teers, civil-lists, etc., that I have seen, state that the town of 
Newstead was "formed as Erie, in 1804," whereas the town of 
Erie, which was formed in 1804, had ceased to exist for 
fifteen years when the town of Erie which afterwards became 
Newstead was erected, and the two " Eries " were six miles 
apart at the nearest point. 

The town-records of Newstead were burned a few years ago, 
but those of Alden have been preserved and show that the first 
town-meeting was held at the house of Washburn Parker, on the 
27th day of May, 1823, when Edmond Badger was elected the 
first supervisor. It is said that Alden was so designated by 
one of its citizens after the name of his wife's mother, and was 
thereupon for several years denominated "Grannytown," by the 
irreverent youth of the period. 

Clarence, after the division, still included the present Lan- 
caster, making a town six miles wide and nearly twenty long. 


The south part, however, had grown so that the next winter a 
post-office was established at the present village of Lancaster, 
by the name of " Cayuga Creek ; " Thomas Gross being the 
first postmaster. 

The grand canal was now fairly under way in this section. 
All along the banks of the Niagara, from Buffalo to Tonawanda 
creek, ploughs and spades were busily at work. Early in the 
winter the commissioners had let the contract for a dam at the 
mouth of that creek to Judge Wilkeson and Dr. Johnson, and 
throughout the summer of 1823 those energetic business men 
kept that locality alive with the noise of a host of laborers. 
Mr. Wilkeson also established a store there, the first one nearer 
than Williamsville. Soon afterwards, Tracy, Townsend and 
other Buffalonians formed a company, bought a tract of land, 
and laid off a village at that point. This was the beginning of 
Tonawanda, a place of which large expectations were formed, 
that waited long for their fulfillment, but which in the last ten 
years have been amply realized. 

The war between Buffalo and Black Rock was at its height 
in 1823, the champions of the former place being the Buffalo 
Patriot and the Buffalo Journal, and that of the latter the Black 
Rock Beacon, which had been started the year before. This 
was the time when the fortunes of Black Rock reached their 
climax, its citizens being still inspired by the hope of having 
a "cut off," which should give them the actual terminus of the 
canal. It was probably nearly half as large as Buffalo. But 
thenceforward it stood nearly still, until it was absorbed in Buffalo 
and began to share its growth. 

Buffalo's lack of a harbor had been so fully remedied in 1823 
that, on the 12th of July, one of her journals proudly boasted of 
twenty-nine vessels at her wharves at once. The imports in- 
cluded cedar posts, flax-seed, corn, oats, whisky, maple-sugar, 
ashes, and ginseng. No wheat nor flour that time — though 
wheat and flour occasionally came, in small quantities. 

In the spring of this year (1823) Mr. Wilkeson resigned his 
judicial position, and Lbenezer Walden, the pioneer lawyer of 
the county, was appointed first judge of the Common Fleas. 
In the fall the ex-judge was selected to represent the county in 
the assembly. 


The undestroyed records show the following supervisors 
elected in 1823 and '24, nearly all of them serving both years : 
Buffalo, Josiah Trowbridge; Amherst, John Grove and Oziel 
Smith; Clarence, Simeon Fillmore; Alden, Edmond Badger; 
Wales, Ebenezer Holmes; Hamburg, Lemuel Wasson ; Eden, 
James Green and Asa Warren; Boston, John Twining ; Holland, 
Mitchell Corliss; Sardinia, Morton Crosby and Horace Clark; 
Collins, Stephen White and Nathaniel Knight. 

The year 1824 was not an eventful one in Erie county. The 
canal was nearly finished within the county limits, and only 
awaited the completion of the great cut through the mountain 
ridge at Lockport, and some work of less importance on either 
side. While it was thus in progress its great advocate, DeWitt 
Clinton, who after being governor many years was then serving 
as canal commissioner, was removed from that humble but im- 
portant ofiSce through partisan hostility. This ungrateful act 
roused the intense resentment of a large portion of the people, 
and in the fall he received an independent nomination for gov- 
ernor, and was triumphantly elected. Erie county remembered 
her benefactor and gave him a handsome majority. 

At the same time Colonel Calvin Fillmore, of Aurora, was 
chosen to represent the county in the assembly, and Judge 
Wilkeson was elected to the senate. Daniel G. Garnsey, of 
Chautauqua county, was elected to Congress. Mr. Tracy de- 
clined a renomination for that position, and in the winter was 
nominated by the State senate for United States senator, though 
then but thirty-one years of age. The assembly, however, failed 
to concur, and on a subsequent joint ballot another aspirant was 
elected. Another weekly paper was established this year, by 
Lazelle & Francis, called the Buffalo Emporium. 

Not far from the time under consideration, certainly during 
the administration of Mr. Otto as local agent, the Holland 
Company adopted a system of receiving from the settlers the 
products of their farms, in payment for land. Agents yearly 
received cattle at certain advertised points, and endorsed the 
value thereof on the contracts. Turner states that, while the 
measure was highly beneficial to the settlers, the company, by 
reason of the expense of agencies, etc., lost largely by the new 





An ExcitingSearch.— The Thayers.— John Love.— The Shooting Match.— The Di.s- 
covery.— The Trial.— The Confession.— The Execution.— Reception of La- 
fayette. — Interview -Hith Red Jacket. — An Amusing Episode. — Major Noah. 
— Ararat. — Laying the Corner-stone. — Noah's Proclamation. — The End of 
Ararat. — The Climax of Absurdity.— Completion of the Canal.— The Grand 
Celebration.— De Witt Clinton.— The State Salute.— The Wedding of Lake 
and Ocean. — Political Matters. 

The quiet of 1824 was more than compensated by the excite- 
ments of 1825. Since the close of the war no such eventful 
twelvemonth had passed over the county of Erie. 

Early in the year the public first learned of a tragedy which 
became celebrated throughout the country, and to which old 
residents of Western New York still look back as the event 
most deeply branded on their memories. For many reasons I 
would be willing to omit all mention of this wretched event, yet 
it was so notorious that it would obviously be out of the question 
for any one to pretend to write a history of Erie county, without 
giving some account of the episode of " The Three Thayers." 

In the latter part of February, 1825, there was a great excite- 
ment in the town of Boston, especially in the northern portion. 
Men and boys were out on all the hillsides and in all the valleys, 
peering into bushes, looking under logs, exploring every nook 
where a human body might be secreted. They were searching 
for the corpse of John Love. Love was a Scotchman by birth, 
who made a practice of sailing the lake in summer and going 
on peddling tours in winter. He was an unmarried man, and 
for two or three years had made his headquarters among the 
Thayers, near North Boston. 

These were an old man, Israel Thayer, and his three sons. 
Nelson, Israel, Jr., and Isaac. The two first were married, 
though the oldest was but twenty-three years of age, the young- 
est of the three being nineteen. They were all in very humble 


circumstances, and the young men have generally been reputed 
as of reckless and evil character. On the other hand, it has 
been said by some who knew them well that their general be- 
havior was no worse than that of many young men, and that, 
had it not been for their subsequent crimes, their characters 
would have passed without special reprobation. S. V. R. Graves, 
Esq., of East Hamburg, so informed me, and added that either 
of them would share his last sixpence with an acquaintance, in 
case of need. Certain it is that the two oldest both married 
into respectable families. 

Love had acquired some money, which he was in the habit of 
loaning. He had lent some to the Thayers. During the sum- 
mer of 1824 he sailed in the employ of young Bennett, now the 
venerable Deacon Joseph Bennett, of Evans, then the owner and 
captain of a small vessel on the lake. Deacon Bennett declares 
Love to have been a penurious, grasping man, and says he has 
no doubt, from circumstances within his knowledge, that he was 
planning to get possession of all the little property the Thayers 

In the fall of 1824, Love, after returning from the lake to 
Boston, and remaining with the Thayers for awhile, suddenly 
disappeared. Little was thought of it at first, as it was sup- 
posed he had gone on one of his peddling trips. Ere long, how- 
ever, it was noticed that the Thayers, usually so poor, were well 
supplied with money. 

Perhaps the first suspicion against them was aroused at a 
shooting-match in Boston, on Christmas day. Shots were a six- 
pence apiece, and sixpences were scarce in those times. Marks- 
men were in the habit of economizing, especially if they found 
themselves missing many shots. But all the afternoon the three 
Thayers kept up a constant firing at the match-maker's turkeys, 
careless whether they hit or missed, and flinging out their six- 
■ pences with a profusion positively startling to the rural mind of 
that era. 

Soon, one or another of the young men was seen riding a 
fine horse which had belonged to Love, and which they said he 
had given them. Finally, with that fatuity which so often lures 
criminals to their destruction, the Thayers attempted to collect 
notes and accounts, which they represented that Love had left 


with them for that purpose. The debtors demurred. One of 
them refused to pay because no power of attorney was pro- 
duced. In a few days a power of attorney was brought forward. 
Then suspicions rapidly grew rife. The Thayers were closely 
questioned as to Love's whereabouts, and their unsatisfactory 
answers increased the suspicions. 

At length Nelson and Israel were arrested, and, as I have 
said, men gathered from all the country round to search for the 
body of Love. The magistrates of Boston offered for its recov- 
ery a reward of ten dollars! But ten dollars was more then 
than it is now. The searchers circled far and near, exploring 
every suspicious nook, but without results, and toward nightfall 
they returned, wearied and unsuccessful, but still unsatisfied. 

One of them had his attention called to a piece of sloping 
ground back of the cabin of Israel Thayer, Jr. It is generally 
reported that this was caused by old Mr. Thayer's asking 
whether they had examined that locality, but there is nothing 
in the sworn evidence to that effect. At all events several men 
went to examine the spot. And there, lying on his back in a 
shallow grave, carelessly covered with brush, his toes peeping 
through the frozen ground, was the body of John Love, only 
twenty or thirty rods from the house of his murderer. The ar- 
rest of Isaac and the old man immediately followed, and all 
were soon in jail. 

They were tried at the Erie county Oyer and Terminer, on 
the 19th and 20th of April. Reuben H. Walworth, judge of 
the fourth district and afterwards chancellor of the State, pre- 
sided, while on the bench with him sat Ebenezer Walden, first 
judge of the Common Pleas, and Associate-Judges Russell, Doug- 
lass and Camp. District-.\ttorney Potter appeared for the peo- 
ple, assisted by Sheldon Smith and Henry B. White, both young 
lawyers, lately admitted. The prisoners were defended by Thos. 
C. Love, Ebenezer Griffin and Ethan B. Allen. Israel, Jr., and 
Isaac were tried first, and Nelson separately, afterwards. The 
father was not put on trial. Associate-Judge William Mills was 
also on the bench, at the second trial. Of the jurors, Jas. Clark 
of Lancaster, and Elijah Knight of Michigan, still survive, and 
possibly others. The evidence was too plain for serious contest, 
and all three were found guilty and sentenced to death. 



Finding their doom sealed, they made a full confession of their 
crime. I pass, as briefly as may be, over its tragic details. The 
murder had been planned for several days before the 15th of 
December, 1824. On that day Love had been persuaded to go 
to the house of Israel, Jr., whose wife had been sent away. While 
he was seated before the fire-place, Isaac, from the outside, fired 
through the window, hitting him in the head. As he did not 
fall from his chair, the oldest of the brothers struck him with 
an axe in the neck, completing the work. Isaac then went 
away, declaring that he had done his part, and the other two 
buried the body, as has been said, in a grave so shallow that the 
earth scarcely covered its feet. 

They all said their father had nothing to do with the crime, 
and it was not generally believed that he had, except that lie 
might, perhaps, have been made aware of it after its commission. 

On the 7th of June, 1825, was seen the remarkable spectacle 
of three brothers led to execution for murder. It was this cir- 
cumstance which made the crime famous, and which drew an 
enormous crowd to the scene of doom. When executions were 
public every one attracted a throng — but three executions at 
once had a fascination which hardly any one could resist. Even 
the day before the last tragedy, many bent their way toward 
Buffalo, and on the morning of the execution, every road was 
crowded with people — men, women and children — hurrying for- 
ward in every kind of vehicle, on horseback and on foot. Never 
had there been seen such thronging numbers since that dismal 
day in December, 18 13, when all the people fled, not to, but from, 
the execution which they feared at the hands of savage invaders. 

There was, however, one notable exception. As Judge Wal- 
den was entering the village from his farm in Hamburg, he met 
the veteran Red Jacket, striding alone toward his home at the 
Seneca village. 

"Why, how is this," said the judge, "why do you not go to 
see the execution, like the rest.-"" 

"Ugh," growled the old chieftain contemptuously, "fools 
enough there now — battle is the place to see men die ; " and 
with this aphorism he haughtily pursued his way. 

The morning of the execution the wretched father was re- 
leased, and returned to his desolate home. 


As usual the militia was called out, and besides the regiment 
of foot, commanded by Colonel and District-Attorney Potter, 1 
find mention of Captains Matthews' and Vosburgh's troops of 
horse, and Captain Crary's artillery. A mass of people, es- 
timated at from twenty to thirty thousand but probably not half 
so large, was gathered about Niagara Square, near the west side 
of which the gallows was situated. Again, as twice before, 
Elder Glezen Fillmore was chosen to preach the customary ser- 
mon, and the survivors of the scene still remember the solemn 
impression which he made, as his mighty voice rolled out over 
the heads of the hushed throng. 

This was the last pu'blic execution at Buffalo, and the only 
one in Erie county after its separate organization. Like most 
other noted events of that era, the tragedy was celebrated in 
divers most un melodious attempts at rhyme. One of them was 
so remarkably uncouth in style, and so disjointed in meter, that 
it may fairly be termed a classic among doggerels. Verses are 
often quoted from it by old residents, and the newspapers have 
several times reprinted it for the delectation of their younger 

One somewhat curious item illustrates the eagerness of the 
people to visit the execution, and marks a point in the history 
of Alden. Thomas Farnsworth, as his son informs me, had put 
up a large house on the site of Alden village in 1823. He 
sometimes entertained travelers, but kept no regular tavern for 
two years. When the crowd came flocking to the execution 
they, in common parlance, ate him out of house and home. 
He furnished them everything he could, and then prepared a 
large supply of eatables and drinkables in expectation of their 
return. Again the hungry throngs cleared his larder ; he then 
concluded that he might as well keep a tavern in earnest, and 
accordingly put up a sign. 

It may be noted, too, as another landmark of progress, that 
in that year James Wood and Orsamus Warren, both deceased 
within the past year, opened the first .store at "Wood's Hollow" 
in Wales. In fact it was about the first large store in that 
section, and drew trade from a wide range of country. 

Between the trial and execution of the Thayers occurred an- 
other event of wide-spread interest. For two or three days Cap- 


tain Vosburgh's cavalry and Captain Rathbun's Frontier Guard 
were kept under arms at Buffalo, awaiting the arrival of the 
steamer Superior. A large concourse of citizens also assembled 

At length, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of June 4th, the 
steamer came, and from it descended an old man of medium 
height, venerable appearance and mild demeanor. A great 
crowd saluted him with enthusiastic chefers, the soldiers pre- 
sented arms, and under their escort the stranger passed up Main 
street, to Rathbun's Eagle tavern. It was Lafayette, the 
of the nation, returning from his western tour. 

In front of the hotel a handsome pavilion had been erected, 
where Judge Forward, on behalf of the people, welcomed the 
distinguished stranger in a brief address, to which the general 
made an appropriate reply. 

Among those who had awaited his arrival was Red Jacket, 
proudly displaying his Washington medal, and doubtless looking 
forward with his usual vanity, though with apparent stoicism, 
to a scene in which it was arranged that he should play a strik- 
ing part. As the whites naturally wanted their aboriginal lion 
to make a creditable appearance, a special committee kept close 
watch to see that the lion did not get drunk before the visitor 

After the formal reception was over, the orator was escorted 
on the stage by the committee. "The Douglass in his hall," 
says Turner, who was present, "never walked with a firmer step 
or a prouder bearing." He almost seemed to condescend to 
take notice of the gentleman from France. 

Their conversation was through an interpreter ; in fact Red 
Jacket always employed one on state occasions. In the course 
of it the treaty of Fort Stanwix was mentioned. Lafayette 
asked his interlocutor if he knew what had become of the young 
chief, who at that time eloquently opposed the " burying of the 

" He stands before you," proudly and promptly replied the 
aged orator. Nevertheless there is a good deal of doubt as to 
whether Red Jacket was present at Fort Stanwix at all. If he 
saw a good chance to add to the dramatic interest of his inter- 
view with Lafayette, he would probably be quite willing to seize 


it, without regard to the trifling matter of his absence from the 

In further conversation, the sachem remarked that time had 
not visited the general so hardly as himself. 

"Time has left you a fresh countenance, and hair to cover your 
head; while as for me — see!" and taking off the handkerchief 
which had covered his head, he disclosed that he was nearly 
bald. A laugh went round among the spectators, for most of 
them knew that Lafayette himself wore a wig. On the chief- 
tain's being informed of this fact, he drily remarked that he 
supposed he, too, might supply himself with a new head of hair, 
with the aid of his scalping-knife. 

That evening the village was illuminated, and the next morn- 
ing the general set out for the Falls, being escorted as far as 
Black Rock by the military. 

The occurrences which I shall next describe form altogether 
the most amusing episode in the history of the county of Erie. 
Seldom, indeed, have there happened anywhere events which 
properly entered into history, and yet which were of so intensely 
farcical a character. This account of them is to a great extent 
condensed from an essay read by Hon. Lewis F. Allen before 
the Buffalo Historical Society, though the journals of the time 
have also been consulted. 

From the time of its "conquest," and the expatriation of its 
would-be sovereigns, in 1819, Grand Island had remained un- 
tenanted by man, save perchance by an occasional squatter, who 
had stolen back and occupied his old ground so quietly that no 
one had cared to disturb him. Deer were abundant. Bears 
and wolves were occasionally seen, and fish could be caught in 
unlimited quantities. White hunters occasionally visited the 
island, and the Indians of the neighboring reservations held an- 
nual carnivals of weeks at a time, always returning with canoes 
filled with venison. 

After several years of this Arcadian existence, the State 
caused the island to be surveyed into farm lots in 1824 and '25, 
and in the latter year they were offered for sale. While the sur- 
vey was going on. Major Mordecai Manuel Noah, a prominent 
Israelite of the city of New York, formed a plan to purchase the 
island, (a part of it at first,) found a city, and gather there the 


Hebrews of all nations, making it an asylum for that oppressed 

Despite the visionary nature of his scheme, Major Noah was 
a shrewd man of the world in ordinary affairs — a native of the 
United States, a counselor at law, a successful politician, and the 
editor of the principal organ of the Tammany, or " Bucktail," 
party in the metropolis. By the favor of that party he had 
been made consul at Tunis and high sheriff of the county of 
New York. 

He does not, however, seem to have had much influence with 
his own people, though always a loyal and devoted son of Abra- 
ham. The Hebrews, even of his own acquaintance, distru.sted 
his judgment and rejected his proposals. 

Nevertheless he persisted in his plan. Poor in means himself, 
notwithstanding his political influence, he persuaded his Gentile 
friend, Samuel Leggett, to purchase about a thousand acres at 
the head of Grand Island, and fifteen hundred on the eastern 
side, opposite Tonawanda. Mr. L. agreed to pay nearly seven 
dollars an acre, but only one-eighth was paid down. Other par- 
ties, including Peter Smith, father of the late Gerrit Smith, 
stimulated by Noah's talk of building a city, purchased nearly all 
the rest of the island at a little less than four dollars per acre. 

Noah now assumed the title of "Judge of Israel," without the 
slightest sanction from any assemblage of his compatriots, how- 
ever small, or from any of the actual dignitaries of the Jewish 
church. He then provided himself with robes of office, and, at- 
tended only by a solitary secretary, set forth to found his city. 
For it he had selected the appellation of "Ararat," and the wits 
of the day declared it very natural that, in searching for a name, 
Noah should light on Ararat. 

He arrived in Buffalo near the middle of September, 1825. 
Some of the necessary arrangements had been made in advance. 
A flag-staff had been erected on the island to bear the Grand 
Standard of Israel, and a flat stone, resembling in appearance a 
large, old-fashioned gravestone, had been inscribed by a Buf- 
falo mechanic with a suitable device, furnished by Major Noah. 
Though called a " corner-stone," it does not appear to have been 
intended for any particular building, but rather as a memento 
of the founding of the city. 


And here comes the most amusing and surprising part of all 
this strange performance. Finding, according to his own state- 
ment, that enough boats could not be procured to convey to the 
island all who wished to see the ceremony, Major Noah deter- 
mined to lay the foundation-stone of the city of Ararat in the 
village of Buffalo, twelve miles distant, and on the other side 
of the east branch of the Niagara river. I suspect, however, 
that this astonishing absurdity was due rather to the facilities 
which the village afforded for a good show, as compared with 
the wilds of Grand Island ; for vanity was certainly one of the 
principal characteristics of the self-styled judge. 

The people of Buffalo were full of excitement over the almost- 
completed canal, and their own expected greatness, and gladly 
availed themselves of any opportunity to make a display. More- 
over, as if to add to the oddity of the whole affair, it was de- 
termined to lay the foundation of this Jewish city of refuge 
within the walls of the Episcopal church of St. Paul's. The 
masons, too, lent their aid, some of the military companies 
agreed to turn out, and the officers of the corporation consented 
to appear in a body. 

The 15th of September was fixed as the day for the cere- 
mony. At sunrise salutes were fired in front of the court-house 
and on the Terrace. At eleven o'clock a procession formed in 
front of the masonic lodge-room, and moved toward the church. 
Colonel Heman B. Potter acted as grand marshal. 

There was a band of music, and militia companies, and citi- 
zens, and various officers both civil and military. Then came 
the masons, in full regalia, with the emblematic corn, wine and 
oil. Then, almost at the last, followed only by a few royal arch 
masons and knights templar, came the principal figure of the 
procession. In an article written by Major Noah himself, for 
an extra edition of the Buffalo Patriot, that figure is described 
as " The Judge of Israel, in black, wearing the judicial robes 
of crimson silk, trimmed with ermine, and a richly embossed 
golden medal suspended from the neck." 

At the church the troops opened each way, and the proces- 
sion entered, while the band played the grand march from Judas 
Maccabees. The "corner stone" lay on the communion table ! 
The masonic corn, wine and oil lay in silver cups on the stone. 


The latter bore the following inscription, the first line being in 
Hebrew : 

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God — the Lord is one. 


A City of Refuge for the Jews. Founded by 


In the month of Tizri 5586— Sept. 1825, in the 50th year 
of American Independence. 

The Episcopal morning service was read by the Rev. Addison 
Searle, the missionary rector of St. Paul's, and then a hymn was 
sung to the tune of " Old Hundred." Then came various 
prayers, readings from the Bible, a psalm in Hebrew, and finally 
the benediction. The ordinary ceremony of laying a corner- 
stone with trowel and mortar was necessarily omitted. 

Major Noah then delivered a speech, going through with the 
details of his' plan, after which the procession returned to the 
lodge-room, the artillery fired a salute of twenty-four guns, the 
band played patriotic airs, and the crowd dispersed to their 

The same number of the Buffalo Patriot which gave a descrip- 
tion of the scene contained also a " proclamation to the Jews," 
quite as amusing as the rest of the proceedings. After declar- 
ing that God had manifested the approach of the day when the 
Jews should be reunited, and mentioning the spirit of liberality 
which encouraged them, the document continued : 

" Therefore I, Mordecai Manuel Noah, citizen of the United 
States of America, late consul of said States for the City and 
Kingdom of Tunis, High Sheriff" of New York, Counselor at 
law, and by the grace of God Governor and Judge of Lsrael, 
have issued this, my proclamation, announcing to the Jews 
throughout the world that an asylum is prepared, and hereby 
offered to them, where they can enjoy that peace, comfort and 
happiness which have been denied them through the intoler- 
ance and misgovernment of former ages." 

The proclamation next proceeded to describe the agricultural 
and commercial advantages of Grand Island, and of the State 
of New York, in the most glowing terms. Then the judge 
continued : 

" In his [the Lord's] name do I revive, renew and establish 
the government of the Jewish nation, under the auspices and 
protection of the constitution and laws of the United States of 


America, confirming and perpetuating all our rights and privi- 
leges, our name, our rank and our power among the nations of 
the earth, as they existed and were recognized under the gov- 
ernment of the Judges." 

How their rank and power among the nations, as they were 
in the time of the Judges, were to be reconciled with the author- 
ity of the United States over Grand Island, the enthusiastic 
ruler did not deign to explain. With sublime audacity he pro- 
ceeded to issue a series of commands to all the Israelites of the 
world, not one of whom, except perhaps his secretary, had 
ever recognized his authority. 

He commanded that a cen.sus of the Hebrews should be taken 
throughout the world. He prohibited m'arriage, or giving 
" Keduchim," unless both parties were of suitable age, and able 
to read and write the language of the country they inhabited. 
He commanded that a strict neutrality should be observed in 
the pending war between the Greeks and Turks. He declared 
that the American Indians were in all probability descended 
from the lost tribes of Israel, and that measures must be 
adopted to cultivate their minds and reunite them to the chosen 

Most audacious of all, he levied a capitation tax of " three 
shekels," or one Spanish dollar, per annum, on every Jew 
throughout the world, to defray the expenses of reorganizing 
the government and assisting emigrants. Finally he designated 
ten of the most eminent Israelites of Europe as commissioners 
to carry out his instructions. 

The proclamation was signed " By the Judge. A. B. Siexas, 
Secretary /;'(? tem!' 

A day or two later the redoubtable counselor, editor, major, 
sheriff and judge returned to New York, without having ever 
visited Grand Island, and that was the end of Ararat. Not an 
Israelite went to Grand Island, not a " shekel " was paid into 
the treasury, not a rabbi acknowledged the authority of the Su- 
preme Judge. All unanimously rejected the enticing scheme, 
and Noah himself, apparently becoming satisfied of its hope- 
lessness, utterly abandoned it immediately after his return to the 

In his description of the affair he called the services " impres- 


sive and unique." Unique they certainly were. I doubt if a 
"queerer" performance has ever happened outside the limits of 
opera bouffe. The foundation-stone of a Jewish city is laid with 
masonic ceremonies, on the communion table of a Christian 
church, twelve miles and across a river from the site of the pro- 
posed metropolis, by a man claiming to be the supreme ruler of 
Israel without the support of a single Israelite, while an Epis- 
copal clergyman reads the service and the choir sing Old Hun- 
dred. Moreover, the ceremonies are under the escort of a 
detachment of New York militia, their colonel acting as grand 
marshal, he being at the same time district-attorney of Erie 
county, aiding the high sheriff of New York to set up the an- 
cient government of the Hebrew judges within the jurisdiction 
of the United States of America. 

A score of exclamation points would be inadequate to do 
justice to the situation. 

Noah did not even take care to destroy or conceal the stone 
memento of his folly. For several years it lay in the rear of St. 
Paul's church, and afterwards went through some curious mi- 
grations which will perhaps be narrated by-and-by. 

Not the least singular part of the whole matter is that after this 
astonishing fiasco Noah was still able to maintain his prestige 
as an editor and politician. If he was the cause of wit in others, 
he was not without wit of his own, and in his newspaper he met 
the ridicule flung upon him, with a readiness and good humor 
that in time disarmed his adversaries. Though he could not 
make himself a judge in .Israel, he could in New York, being 
appointed to preside in one of the courts of that city some years 
after his Grand Island escapade. He is said to have performed 
his judicial duties with marked ability and integrity. 

There was still another grand sensation for the year 1825. 
The progress of the Erie canal had been anxiously watched 
throughout the final summer of its construction. In September 
there remained only the last touches at the " Mountain Ridge," 
where the village of Lockport was rapidly growing in the forest- 
On the 29th of that month William C. Bouck, the commissioner 
in charge of the western section, gave notice that the canal 
would be ready for the passage of boats, along its entire length, 
on the 26th of October. 


Immediately a grand celebration was resolved on, and com- 
mittees were appointed all along the line to carry it out. From 
Albany to Buffalo everybody was in a state of excitement over 
the canal and the celebration, and even New York took an ac- 
tive part. Nowhere was the feeling stronger than at Buffalo, 
which at length saw its hopes of greatness approaching realiza- 
tion. Though the adoption of that place as the terminus of 
the canal was perhaps the real turning-point in her destiny, yet 
her triumph was still liable to be checked by hostile legislation. 
The completion of the canal set the seal of permanent success 
on her endeavors, and all her people were ready for a jubilee. 
The whole county of Erie, too, was deeply interested in the 
event about to be celebrated, for it not only provided the people 
with an unfailing outlet for their surplus produce, but it brought 
to their doors the market which a great city always affords. 

As the designated hour drew near, the force at the Mountain 
Ridge was largely increased, and even then there was no time 
to spare. It was not till the evening of the 24th of October 
that the guard-gates were opened, and the filling of the Lake 
Erie level commenced, and not till the evening of the 25th that 
the entire canal was provided with water, and ready for naviga- 
tion. On that evening Governor Clinton and the New York 
committee arrived at Buffalo, finding eveiything in perfect 
readiness for the ovation. 

On the 26th the morn was ushered in by the thunders of ar- 
tillery, and everybody was soon astir. At an early hour mar- 
shals were riding to and fro, soldiers were hurrying to their 
rendezvous, banners were waving from every housetop, mechan- 
ics of every description were assembling at the appointed local- 
ities, and citizens of every station were preparing to join in the 
joyful duties of the day. At 9 o'clock the procession formed 
at the park and moved down Main street, headed by a band of 
music and Captain Rathbun's rifle company. Then came a 
body of canal diggers with shovels, axe-men with axes, stone- 
cutters, masons, ship-carpenters, and sailors of the lake with 
their officers. All the mechanics of the village followed, (I 
doubt if one was absent) ; the representatives of each trade 
marching together. Then came the citizens in general, then a 
body of military officers in uniform, members of the village 


corporation, strangers of distinction, canal engineers and com- 
missioners, followed by the orator of the day, Sheldon Smith. 

Last of all, rode one who has been universally recognized as 
the master-mind of the work then celebrated — whose genius 
discerned the wisdom of the much-ridiculed project of the 
" Grand Canal," whose talents gave it effective advocacy, whose 
resolute will forced it to completion — De Witt Clinton, governor 
of the State of New York. A square-built, broad-shouldered 
man of fifty-six, his stern countenance may have hidden his 
feelings from the crowd, but he must have been more or less 
than human had not his heart beat quicker with triumph as he 
saw his hopes and his labors at last realized. Henceforth his 
position was secure. Politicians might outwit him, enemies 
might assail him, disease might torture him, death might soon 
claim him for its own, but the " Father of the Erie Canal " had 
achieved a place in the history of his State and nation, of which 
neither politicians, nor enemies, nor disease, nor death itself 
could rob him. 

The procession, under the direction of Major John G. Camp, 
grand marshal of the day, moved down Main street, and thence 
to the canal basin, where the boat Seneca Chief, which was to 
make the first voyage through to the Hudson, was awaiting 
it. The governor and other distinguished passengers went on 
board. Jesse Hawley, the earliest projector of the canal in 
its entirety, made a short address of congratulation on the part 
of a committee from Rochester. Judge Forward responded on 
behalf of the Buffalo committee. 

Then, at precisely lo o'clock, the boat moved off", and, as it 
did so, a 32-pound cannon on the bank was fired. Ere its echoes 
died away, it was responded to by another gun far down the 
canal ; and those who listened closely for a moment more might, 
perchance, have heard still another faint report, from a yet 
greater distance. The grand State-salute was being fired. All 
along the canal, from Buffalo to Albany, heavy pieces of artil- 
lery had been stationed within hearing distance of each other, 
and the shot fired at Buffalo was repeated by gun after gun, as 
fast as sound could travel. 

After the boat had started, the procession returned to the 
court-house, where, after prayer and singing, Mr. Smith delivered 


an oration on the great event, in which, after depicting the 
benefits which the canal, though incomplete, had already con- 
ferred, he indulged in a glowing description of the blessings 
which it would bestow in the future, not only on the people of 
the Empire State, but on the many millions of the mighty 
West ; anticipations which have been more than made good by 
the beneficent reality. 

The services at the court-house were closed by the singing of 
an " ode written for the occasion," which was not, as is often the 
case with such productions, entirely destitute of poetic fire. 
The procession then re-formed and marched through several 
streets. Afterwards, a large number of the citizens partook of a 
dinner at " Rathbun's Eagle," and another body at " Landon's 
Mansion House." 

A few minutes before sitting down, a faint report was heard 
to the northward. 

" Ah ! the return shot," cried the people, and at the same in- 
stant the big 32-pounder at the basin thundered forth the last 
shot in the State-salute. The announcement of the starting of 
the Seneca Chief had occupied but three hours and twenty min- 
utes in traveling to Albany and back by this unique telegraph. 

The dinners were duly discussed, with numerous toasts appro- 
priate to the occasion, and the festivities of the day were con- 
cluded by a grand ball at Rathbun's, at which, we are told, 
" most of the fashion and beauty of the village attended." 

The Buffalo committee, headed by Judge Wilkeson, went 
through to New York, and obtained a keg of the water of the 
Atlantic, which they brought back to Buffalo. On their arrival 
there was a final ceremony, which reminds one of the wedding of 
the Adriatic by the doge of Venice. The sentiment was quite 
as poetic, though it must be confessed that the accessories were 
far less so. 

The committee, with other citizens, went out upon the lake in 
a vessel. Then, with appropriate formalities, the water of the 
Atlantic was poured upon the bosom of Erie. This was the 
last ceremonial which celebrated the grand wedding of Lake 
and Ocean. 

It was in 1825, or very near it, that the trustees of Buffalo 
changed the old names of many of the streets to others more 


easily manageable. Vollenhoven avenue became Erie street, 
Cazenove avenue Court street, Schimmelpenninck avenue Niag- 
ara street, and Busti avenue Genesee street. Onondaga street 
was changed into Washington, and Tuscarora into Franklin, and 
terrible Missisauga was subdued to simple Morgan. Even the 
modest names of Oneida and Cayuga were not spared, but were 
changed into EUicott and Pearl. Finally, Crow street, which 
commemorated the name of the pioneer landlord, was rechrist- 
ened Exchange, and then the reformers stayed their hands. 

Another change of name was made, about this time, on the 
banks of the Cattaraugus. The hamlet called Aldrich's Mills 
became the village of Lodi. A year or two previous Mr. Ralph 
Plumb had purchased the solitary store there, and had begun 
the prominent business career which he so long and successfully 
pursued. Probably the name of Lodi was suggested by Na- 
poleon's " Bridge of Lodi," on account of the long bridge over 
the Cattaraugus, which connected the two parts of the village. 
But there was another Lodi in the State, their letters went 
wrong, and for a long time they never could get a post-office 
name to suit them. 

At the election in November, John G. Camp was chosen 
sheriff, and Jacob A. Barker was reelected county clerk. Reu- 
ben B. Heacock was selected to represent the county in the as- 
sembly, and Judge VVilkeson in the State senate. The supervi- 
sors for that year, of which there happens to be a complete list 
extant, were as follows: Amherst, Job Bestow; Alden, Moses 
Case; Aurora, John C. Fuller; Buffalo, Josiah Trowbridge; 
Boston, John C. Twining; Collins, Nathaniel Knight; Concord, 
Thomas M. Barrett; Clarence, Simeon Fillmore; Evans, Na- 
thaniel Gray; Eden, James Green; Erie (Newstead), John 
Boyer; Hamburg, Thomas T. White, and after his death Joseph 
Foster; Holland, Asa Crook; Sardinia, Bela H. Colegrove; 
Wales, Ebenezer Holmes. 

The State census was taken in June of this year, and showed 
the population of Erie county to be twenty-four thousand three 
hundred and sixteen. Buffalo numbered two thousand four 
hundred and twelve inhabitants — only one tenth of the whole 
population of the- county. 



1826 TO 1830. 

The Semi-Centennial. — Dr. Lord.— Purchase of Indian Land. — Abduction of Mor- 
gan. — Excitement. — Anti-Masonry in I'ohtics. — The Holland Company.— 
A Bogus Murderer. — Shooting Niagara. — A Menagei'ie in Trouble. — Depo- 
sition of Red Jacket. — Restoration. — An Erie County Cabinet-Ofhcer. — Mili- 
tary. — Early Germans. — Political Matters. — Catholics. — A Classical School. 
Millard Fillmore. — Post-offices in 1830. — Condition of the County. — Death 
of Red Jacket. — Fate of his Remains. 

The construction of the canal was not, at first, rewarded by 
the immense business which its sanguine supporters expected. 
But little grain, as yet, found its way down the lake, and for 
several years loads were light. A large part of the business of 
the canal was the carrying of passengers in packet boats, a busi- 
ness which became quite extensive, yet did not prevent an im- 
mense amount of travel by stage-coach. 

Few incidents of special local interest occurred during the 
forepart of 1826. As this is a "Centennial History," however, 
it would be inconsistent not to mention that in 1826 occurred 
the Jubilee, or Semi-Centennial, of American Independence, 
celebrated with great rejoicing throughout the country, and made 
doubly memorable by the most remarkable coincidence in his- 
tory — the death of Jefferson, the author of the declaration, and 
of Adams, its chief supporter, just iifty years from the day of 
its being signed. 

At the celebration in Buffalo the principal part was borne by 
a young man admitted the year before to the Erie county bar, 
of which he is now the earliest surviving member, though he has 
long given all his efforts to another field. I refer to John C. 
Lord, now the Rev. Dr. Lord, the orator of the day on that 

The supervisors for the year, so far as known, were Job Bes- 
tow of Amherst, Moses Case of Alden, Josiah Trowbridge of 
Buffalo,- Truman Cary of Boston, O. R. Hopkins of Clarence, 
Nathaniel Knight of Collins, Asa Warren of Eden, Joseph 


Foster of Hamburg, Asa Crook of Holland, Horace Clark of 
Sardinia, and Ebenezer Holmes of Wales. 

During this year the efforts of the preemption-owners to pur- 
chase Indian lands were at length rewarded with partial success. 
A council was held the last of August, 1826, and, notwithstand- 
ing the remonstrances of Red Jacket and his supporters, a treaty 
was made by which the Indians ceded to the Ogden Company 
33,637 acres of the Buffalo reservation, 33,409 of the Tonawanda 
reservation, and 5,120 of the Cattaraugus reservation, besides 
some 1,500 acres in the Genesee valley. 

All of the Tonawanda reservation in Erie county was thus 
ceded, except a strip about a mile and a half wide and two 
miles and a half long, in the northeast corner of the town of 
Erie, or Newstead. The thriving village of Akron is on the 
land then purchased, near its southwest corner. 

From the Buffalo Creek reservation a strip a mile and a half 
wide was sold off on the south side, running from a point in 
the present town of Cheektowaga, a mile and a half east 
of Cayuga creek to the east end of the reservation. Also a strip 
about three miles wide from the east end, (including all east of 
the "two-rod road" in Marilla), and finally a tract a mile wide, 
commonly called the " mile-strip," extending along the whole 
south side of the reservation. 

Of the Cattaraugus reservation, besides a mile square in 
Chautauqua county there was ceded in Erie county a strip a 
mile wide along the north side of the reservation, for six miles 
from the northeast corner, also called in that section the "mile- 
strip," and a tract a mile square, known as the "mile-block," 
south of the east end of that strip. Both are in the present town 
of Brant, the north edge of that " mile-strip " being about half 
a mile south of Brant Center. 

Red Jacket's influence was evidently waning, but he still 
clung to the semblance of his former greatness. After the 
treaty was agreed to by the greater part of the chiefs, the agent 
of the Ogden Company told the veteran orator that as he had 
opposed its adoption he need not sign it. But no ; the name of 
Sagoyewatha had been affixed to every treaty made by his 
people for nearly forty years, and must not now be omitted. 

His opposition to Christianity and civilization was yearly 


growing more bitter, and the breach between his pagan adherents 
and that large part of the Indians who favored progressive doc- 
trines was all the while becoming wider. Although his vanity 
prompted him to have his name in its usual prominent posi- 
tion, yet he afterwards tried to have the treaty set aside as fraud- 
ulent. On examination, however, the negotiations appeared to 
have been conducted with entire fairness. 

As soon as practicable, the land thus purchased was divided 
among the several individuals who were collectively called the 
Ogden Company, and most of it was put in market. 

That year, too, the State offered for sale its land adjoining 
Buffalo, on the State reservation, which came as far east as Mor- 
gan street. It was appraised at twenty-five dollars an acre ! 
The price, however, advanced very rapidly after the sale. Mr. 
James Miller relates that he bought twelve acres of the first 
purchasers for nine hundred and fifty dollars, kept it a year and 
sold it for six thousand. 

It was in September of this year that the celebrated William 
Morgan, of Batavia, when on the eve of publishing his exposure 
of the secrets-'of masonry, was abducted from Canandaigua, 
where he had been confined in jail on trivial charges, and taken 
in a close carriage in the direction of Niagara river. The ab- 
duction created much excitement throughout Western New 
York, but does not appear in any way to have affected the 
election that fall. 

In this congressional district a very bitter contest, chiefly on 
personal grounds, took place between Garnsey, the sitting mem- 
ber, and Albert H. Tracy, the ex-member, the former being 
elected by a small majority. Mr. Tracy had, a few months be- 
fore, been appointed judge of the eighth circuit by Governor 
Clinton, but had declined the office. Wm. B. Rochester, who 
had previously held it, had resigned in order to come to Buffalo 
and accept the presidency of a branch of the United States 
Bank, then established there. 

By the census of 1825, Erie county had become entitled to 

two members of the assembly ; David Burt of Buffalo, and 

Oziel Smith of Williamsville, were the first elected under the 

new rule. 

As time, passed, and Morgan could not be found, the people 



became still more excited. Meetings were held, and commitees 
of investigation appointed, and bitter language toward all ma- 
sons began to be used throughout Western New York. At 
length it was discovered that the unfortunate man had been 
taken from Canandaigua to Fort Niagara, thence across the 
river to Canada, and thence back to the fort, in the magazine of 
which he was kept until about the 29th of September, when all 
traces of him disappeared forever. Plentiful inferences have 
been drawn, but his precise fate is still unknown. Some of his 
first abductors were discovered and indicted, but they pleaded 
guilty of the abduction in January, 1827, leaving the main ques- 
tion undecided. The feeling grew stronger and spread wider, 
and nowhere was it stronger than in Erie county, except per- 
haps in Genesee. Many masons abandoned the connection. 

As the town elections approached in the spring of 1827, the 
prevalent excitement began to show itself in politics. In many 
towns, meetings were held at which resolutions were adopted 
that no adhering mason should be supported for any office. 

The following supervisors were chosen at that time : T. S. 
Hopkins of Amherst, Moses Case of Alden, Thomas Thurston 
of Aurora, Josiah Trowbridge of Buffalo, Epaphras Steele of 
Boston, Nathaniel Knight of Collins, Otis R. Hopkins of Clar- 
ence, Levi Bunting of Eden, William Van Duzer of Evans, Asa 
Crook of Holland, Joseph Foster of Hamburg, Horace Clark 
of Sardinia, and Niles Cole of Wales. 

During the year many masonic lodges in Western New York 
gave, up their charters, and distrust of the institution extended 
to other parts of the country. Parties were in a chaotic state, 
nearly all men claiming to be Democrats. The most definite 
division was into supporters of the Adams-Clay administration, 
on the one hand, and of Jackson's aspirations to the succession 
on the other. Neither of these parties would consent to the ex- 
clusion of masons from office, so the ardent anti-masons advo- 
cated the policy of separate nominations. Some of the counties 
were carried by an anti-masonic ticket in the fall of 1827. 

In Erie, however, that question was complicated with that of 
opposition to the Holland Land Company. Notwithstanding 
the reception of produce by the company, there was still a large 
indebtedness, with poor prospects of payment. When, added to 


this, came rumors that the company was about to raise the price 
of land on which the time of payment had passed, there was 
a general desire for legislative relief Doubts were started as to 
the title of the company, and the proposition that in some way 
its property should be subjected to very heavy taxation was re- 
ceived with favor. David E. Evans had succeeded Mr. Otto as 
agent, and during his administration the contracts were some- 
what modified in favor of the settlers. 

At this time the veteran soldier and statesman, Peter B. Por- 
ter, again came to the surface of political affairs. He was 
almost unanimously elected to the assembly, representing a 
mingled feeling of opposition to masonry and to the •Holland 
Company. David Burt was reelected by a large majority. 

In the fall, the masons charged with the murder of Morgan 
were brought to trial in Niagara county, the trials resulting in 
disagreement of the juries. While the excitement was running 
high an incident occurred, curiously illustrative of the proclivity 
of minds, at once weak, vain and vicious, to seek an evil notori- 
ety at every hazard. One R. H. Hill, a resident or sojourner in 
this county, confessed with great circumstantiality that he had 
been a party to the murder of Morgan. He declared that with 
his own hand he had cut the victim's throat, and then helped to 
throw him overboard from a boat, and that in doing so one of 
the party of murderers became entangled in some ropes, fell 
overboard and was drowned. He added that remorse alone had 
caused this confession. He was put in jail, but when the grand 
jury examined the matter they came to the unanimous opinion 
that Hill knew nothing of Morgan or his fate. The would-be 
culprit was accordingly discharged, a proceeding which he took 
in high dudgeon. Not long after, he again got himself arrested, 
but was again discharged, being thus finally compelled to aban- 
don all his hopes of fame. In the reports of the affair there is 
no suggestion of insanity — but insanity was not as fashionable 
then as now. 

Stimulated by the prevalent feeling, an anti-masonic newspaper, 
called the Western Advertiser, was started in Buffalo, but it 
only lasted about three months. A separate organ was not 
necessary, as the principles of the anti-masons were vigorously 
supported by the Buffalo Patriot, while the Journal defended 

38o Black rock, tonawanda, etc. 

masonry. It defended it very moderately, however, for the feel- 
ing in opposition was too strong to be rudely dealt with. 

The Black Rock Gazette was moved to Buffalo in 1827, by 
its proprietor. Smith H. Salisbury, and published for a year as 
the Buffalo and Black Rock Gazette. The Black Rock Advo- 
cate, which had maintained a precarious existence for a year, 
gave up the ghost in 1827. It was evident that the tide of pro- 
gress was rapidly drifting away from Black Rock. 

Tonawanda village had at this time advanced so that it had 
a bridge, a few houses and two small stores ; Mr. Driggs, before 
referred to, who located there permanently in 1827, opened the 
third. The Methodists then had an organization, but there was 
no church-building. 

In fact church-buildings were extremely rare anywhere in the 
county. I cannot learn of one, out of Buffalo, in the beginning 
of 1827, except the Friends' meeting-house at East Hamburg. 
In that year the Baptist and Presbyterian churches in Aurora 
combined, and built a good-sized frame church. The Methodists 
there erected one about the same time, and thenceforth white 
spires began to arise in all parts of the county. 

At this time, too, the village of Lodi, formerly Aldrich's 
Mills, had progressed so that it was thought possible to support 
a paper there, and the Lodi Pioneer was accordingly established. 
It had but a brief existence. 

There were already several steamers on the lake, and a large 
fleet of sail vessels. Two or three small steamers had also been 
built to run on the Niagara. A curious exhibition was seen on 
that river in September, 1827. The schooner Michigan, which 
was found to be too large to enter the lake harbors, and had be- 
sides become partially unseaworthy, was purchased by several 
hotel-owners and others, and public notice given that on a cer- 
tain day it would be sent over the Falls. The novel exhibition 
drew immensely. Strangers came for days beforehand, and at 
the time appointed the number of people on Goat Island and the 
neighboring shores was estimated all the way from ten to thirty 
thousand. Five steamers, all there were on both lake and river 
except the Superior, went down from Buffalo loaded with pas- 
sengers, besides thousands who took land-conveyance. 

The Michigan was towed by one of the steamers to Yale's 


landing, three miles above the Falls, on the Canadian side. In 
the afternoon it was taken in charge by Captain Rough, the old- 
est captain on the lake, who with a yawl and five oarsmen un- 
dertook to pilot the doomed vessel as near the rapids as was 
possible. The Michigan had been provided with a crew, for that 
voyage only, consisting of a buffalo, three bears, two foxes, a 
raccoon, a dog, a cat and four geese. It had also been officered 
with effigies of General Jackson and other prominent men of 
the day. 

Captain Rough took the schooner to a point within a quarter 
of a mile of the first rapids, and but little over half a mile 
from the Horse-shoe Fall. Then it was cut adrift, and the oars- 
men had to pull for their lives, but succeeded in insuring their 
safety. Both .shores were lined with immense crowds, eagerly 
watching this curious proceeding. 

With the American ensign flying from her bowsprit, and the 
British jack at her stern, the Michigan went straight down the 
center of the stream, keeping the course the best pilot would 
have pursued, and was soon dashing over the first rapids. Then 
there was trouble among the amateur crew. One of the bears 
was seen climbing a mast. The foxes, the coon, the dog and 
the cat were scampering up and down, apparently snuffing mis- 
chief in the air, but not knowing how to avoid it. Two of the 
bears plunged into the seething rapids and swam to the Cana- 
dian shore. The poor buffalo was inclosed in a pen, and could 
do nothing but meet his fate in dignified silence. 

Passing the first rapids uninjured, the schooner shipped a sea, 
but came up and entered the second, still "head on." There 
its masts both went by the board. Then it swung around, en- 
tered the third rapid stern foremost, and the next instant plunged 
over the Horse-shoe Fall. Of course it was shivered into ten 
thousand pieces, many of the largest timbers being broken into 
atoms. Two of the geese survived the tremendous plunge and 
swam ashore, being the only animals, except fish, ever known to 
have descended alive over that fearful precipice. Their com- 
pagnons de voyage all disappeared ; even the buffalo was never 
heard of more. Of the effigies, Gen. Jackson's alone passed un- 
injured over the cataract, and was seen with head, arms and legs 
complete, riding triumphantly around one of the eddies — which 


was doubtless considered by the friends of the real general as 
an omen of success at the next Presidential election. 

About the same time that this singular pageant was attracting 
a multitude of spectators, the old orator of the Senecas was be- 
ing metaphorically sent over the Falls, as an unseaworthy hulk, 
by his countrymen. The school at the Seneca village was then 
in a forward condition, and many of the most prominent Indians 
began to profess their belief in Christianity. Red Jacket's oppo- 
sition became more bitter than ever, while his personal habits 
were those of a perfect sot. 

His wife had lately joined the Christians, whereupon the angry 
old pagan abandoned her, and lived for several months with an- 
other woman on the Tonawanda reservation. At the end of 
that time, however, he returned to his wife, and afterwards man- 
ifested no opposition to her attending church. 

Twenty-five of the chiefs determined to depose him from his 
.sachemship. They accordingly had a written deposition drawn 
up, which they all signed. The list was headed by "Gayanquia- 
ton," or Young King, followed by the veteran Captain Pollard, 
White Seneca, Seneca White, Captain Strong and the rest. 

This singular document was directly addressed to him, saying, 
" You, Sagoyowatha," have committed such and such offenses ; 
accusing him of sending false stories to the President, of oppos- 
ing improvement, of discouraging children from attending school, 
of leaving his wife, of betraying the United States in the war of 
1 812, of appropriating annuity goods to his own use, and of hid- 
ing a deer he had killed, while his people were starving. His 
accusers closed by renouncing him as chief, and forbidding him 
to act as such. 

These charges extended over a long time, and as to many of 
them there are no means of ascertaining their correctness. 
Those relating to his opposition to " improvement," etc., were 
doubtless true, but were hardly proper subjects of impeachment. 
As to the accusation of betraying the United States in the war, 
it was generally repudiated by American officers, who doubted 
Red Jacket's courage, but not his fidelity. He sought, indeed, 
to keep his people out of the fight entirely, but his right to do 
this can hardly be questioned. It will be observed that his ac- 
cusers say nothing about the gross drunkenness which really 


unfitted him for performing any official duties which may have 
attached to his rank. Probably a good many of them thought 
it not best, on their own account, to meddle with that subject. 

Chiefs were so numerous among the Indians that twenty-five 
was a minority of those who could claim that dignity ; and the 
action of that number could not be considered the voice of the 
nation. Red Jacket, however, was deeply cut by it. He made 
a visit to Washington in 1827 or '28, and the commissioner of 
Indian affairs advised him to return and offer his opponents to 
bury the hatchet. He came back and called a council. Much 
indignation was unquestionably felt among the Indians that 
their greatest man should have been treated with such indignity. 
He exerted his waning powers to the utmost, and made a most 
eloquent speech. The council agreed to restore him to his rank, 
and it is reported that it was done by a unanimous vote, his op- 
ponents being awed into silence by the popular feeling. 

But this was the last effort of that brilliant mind. He sank 
rapidly into comparative imbecility and utter sottishness. 

At the spring elections, in 1828, Timothy S. Hopkins was 
chosen supervisor from Amherst, Moses Case frmn Alden, Reu- 
ben B. Heacock from Buffalo, Epaphras Steele from Boston, 
Nathaniel Knight from Collins, Joshua Agard from Concord, 
Otis R. Hopkins from Clarence, Levi Bunting from Eden, Jo- 
.seph Foster from Hamburg, Asa Crook from Holland, Horace 
Clark from Sardinia, Niles Cole from Wales, and Silas Lewis 
from Colden ; the latter being the first from that town. 

Judge Walden retired from the bench, and Thomas C. Love 
was appointed first judge of the Common Pleas. His associates 
were Charles Townsend, Philander Bennett, Samuel Russell and 
William Mills. 

A little later, a vacancy having occurred in the office of Sec- 
retary of War, President Adams selected Gen. Peter B. Porter 
for that position. He was the first cabinet officer from Western 
New York. Gen. Porter discharged with credit the duties of his 
office during the remainder of Mr. Adams' term, and then re- 
tired permanently from public life. Still later he removed to 
Niagara Falls, where he died in 1844. His only son was the late 
Col. Peter A. Porter, (a native of Erie county, though long a 
resident of Niagara,) who inherited the valor of the pioneer 


volunteer, and fell at the head of his regiment in the war for 
the Union. 

H. B. Potter still remained district-attorney. He had also 
become general of the 47th brigade of infantry, New York mi- 
litia, and a roster on file in the Historical Society gives the names 
of his field and staff officers. I do not know the exact year it 
was made out, but it was not far from 1828. It ran as follows : 

Brigadier-general, Heman B. Potter. Colonels, Jonathan 
Colby of Holland, David Burt of Buffalo, Harry B. Ransom of 
Clarence, and Uriel Torrey of Boston. Lieutenant-colonels, Na- 
than M. Mann of Wales, Lyman Rathbun of Buffalo, Alanson 
Fox of Clarence, and Perry G. Jenks of Boston. Majors, Edward 
H. Nye of Aurora, Alanson Palmer of Buffalo, Ansel Badger 
of Alden, and Whitman Stone of Eden. The brigade staff was 
composed as follows : Hospital surgeon, John E. Marshall ; judge 
advocate. Philander Bennett ; brigade-quartermaster, James W. 
Higgins ; aide-de-camp, George Hodge ; brigade major and in- 
spector, Millard Fillmore. After this time, although generals and 
colonels continued to abound, yet few notices of their appoint- 
ment were published, and consequently I shall not, as a rule, be 
able to give them a place in this history. 

Although the feeling against masonry was very strong in this 
section, and constantly growing more so, yet the lodges at Buf- 
falo and Black Rock still continued to meet, and in 1828 cele- 
brated in the usual manner the ancient festival of St. John. As 
the fall elections approached, the combat grew more intense. 
Charges of murder and of abetting murder were freely used on 
the one hand, and were met by accusations that the leading 
anti-masons were merely stirring up strife for the purpose of 
obtaining office. 

This was also the autumn of the first election of Jackson, 
and the contest was exceedingly bitter, throughout the country, 
between his supporters (who by this time were generally recog- 
nized as the actual Democratic party) and those of the Adams- 
Clay administration. In Western New York the lines were 
. pretty closely drawn between the Jackson Democrats on the one 
hand and the anti-masons on the other, the latter having a large 

In the 30th district, Ebenezer F. Norton, of Buffalo, was 


elected to Congress over John G. Camp. In this county Lemuel 
Wasson, of Hamburg, was chosen sheriff, and Elijah Leech, of 
Buffalo, county clerk. To represent the county in the assembly 
the anti-masons elected David Burt, of Buffalo, and the young 
Aurora lawyer, Millard Fillmore, who then first entered public 
life. Dr. Johnson was again appointed surrogate, in place of 
Roswell Chapin. 

Notwithstanding the feebleness of the Democracy in this 
county, a paper was established during the campaign to dis- 
seminate their principles, which has adhered to that party ever 
since, and which, after several changes of name, has for thirty 
years been known as the Buffalo Courier. At its birth it was 
called the Buffalo Republican. 

It was during the semi-decade under consideration in this 
chapter, that there began to appear in Erie county a few scat- 
tered families of a nationality which is now represented within 
our borders by near eighty thousand of our most prosperous 
citizens. A few Germans had come to Buffalo on the comple- 
tion of the canal, and from year to year thereafter. One of the 
number, Mr. E. C. Grey, who came in 1828, says there were 
not over twenty-five German families in Buffalo when he 
arrived. There were substantially none in the country towns. 
From that time forward the number kept steadily increasing, 
and I shall endeavor as fully as practicable to trace their growth 
up to its present remarkable development. 

The anti-masons continued to hold sway throughout 1829, 
and the adhering masons gradually decreased in numbers. Then 
or not long afterwards the Erie county lodges gave up their 
charters. In the fall of 1829 Albert H. Tracy again entered 
political life, being elected State senator by the anti-masons, by 
a majority of over seven thousand in the eighth senatorial dis- 
trict. At the same time Mr. Fillmore was reelected to the as- 
sembly, in which he had taken high rank by his industry and 
talents. The other member then elected was Edmund Hull, of 

Thomas C. Love resigned the post of first judge to accept 
that of district-attorney, from which General Potter retired 
after ten years of service — the longest time that any one has 
held that office in the county. Associate-judge Philander Ben- 


nett was made first judge in place of Love, and James Stryker 
appointed associate. 

The supervisors for 1829 and 1830, so far as known, were as 
follows : Amherst, Timothy S. Hopkins ; Alden, Moses Case ; 
Buffalo, Ebenezer Walden ; Boston, Epaphras Steele ; Clarence, 
Benjamin O. Bivins and John Brown ; Collins, Nathaniel Knight ; 
Colden, Silas Lewis and William Lewis ; Eden, Levi Bunting ; 
Hamburg, Joseph Foster ; Holland, Chase Fuller ; Sardinia, 
Horace Clark ; Wales, Niles Cole and Moses McArthur. 

Most of the present town of Marilla was included in the 
tract bought of the Indians. Its excellent soil caused it to be 
quickly settled as soon as the land was for sale. Jeremiah and 
G. W. Carpenter opened farms near the site of Marilla village 
in 1829 and '30. Jesse Bartoo had settled still earlier, near what 
is now Porterville, but was long called Bartoo's Mills. 

The large tract purchased in Erie (Newstead) was also rapidly 
filling up. The Erie post-office was on the old BufiTalo road, 
but business had already begun to be drawn toward what is now 
the village of Akron, and in 1828 or '29 Jonathan Russell opened 
a store there. For some unknown reason the place was ere 
long called " The Corporation," and for many years went prin- 
cipally by that name. The interior of the vast limestone ridge, 
however, was as yet unexplored. 

Meanwhile Williamsville, which had remained about the same 
ever since the close of the war, began to revive. Oziel Smith 
bought the extensive mill-property, which had been unused for 
some time, new machinery was set in motion, and the place 
began to assume the appearance of progress. 

•In 1829 the Catholics had become so numerous at Buffalo that 
Bishop Dubois paid them a visit, preached, and administered the 
sacraments of his Church. He states that he found seven or 
eight hundred Catholics, instead of the seventy or eighty he had 
expected. He speaks of hearing the confessions of two hun- 
dred Swiss, and the same year he sent thither Father Nicholas 
Merz, the first Catholic priest settled in Buffalo. There were 
also a few Catholics in Lancaster at that time, but none else- 
where in the county, except scattered individuals. 

Up to this time there had been substantially no means of ed- 
ucation higher than that of a common school, outside of Buffalo, 


and very little even in that village. Mr. Theodotus Burwell, 
afterwards Judge Burwell, was then conducting an academy there. 

For several years efforts had been made to have an academy 
in Springville. At length one was incorporated, and the first 
election of trustees took place in 1829. Two thousand five 
hundred dollars were raised by subscription, in shares of fifteen 
dollars, and a building was begun. 

In the spring of 1829 Mr. George W. Johnson, a young grad- 
uate of Dartmouth college, opened a classical school, or academy, 
at Aurora village ; the first of its kind, out of Buffalo, in the 
county. Mr. J. mentions Joseph Howard, Jr., a leading mer- 
chant and hotel-keeper of that village, as one of the warmest 
patrons of both the private academy and the public one which suc- 
ceeded it. In June, while conducting his school, Mr. Johnson 
became a law student in the office of Millard Fillmore, who had 
just returned from his first session in the legislature. The other 
students were a gentleman named Warren, and Nathan K. Hall, 
the son of a shoemaker in the adjoining town of Wales. 

Mr. Johnson, who after a long professional life in Buffalo is 
now a resident of Niagara county, has furnished me with some 
reminiscences of that period, from which I extract a few relating 
to the future President. Mr. J. speaks of him as being ever the 
same accessible, genial and obliging gentleman, rarely or never 
losing his temper, and noted for quiet, persistent industry. These 
are traits with which all are familiar who know anything of the 
distinguished gentleman in question ; there were others not so 
generally known, and which were perhaps overlaid by the cares 
and dignities of his subsequent life. 

His quondam student relates that he had a quick sense of the 
ridiculous, large imitative powers, and much amusing but inoffen- 
sive humor, which made him a capital teller of anecdotes and 
stories ; he not only relating the story, but with voice and gest- 
ure " acting it out " to the life. While fond of humor, however, 
he was not given to wit, and in sarcastic wit he never indulged. 
His student, and subsequent cabinet-officer, Mr. Hall, was some- 
what like him in both respects, as well as in his other qualities 
of industry, perseverance and moderation. 

Mr. Fillmore, while in Aurora, eked out the slender income of 
a village lawyer by frequent practice as a land-surveyor, being 


the owner of a compass and other surveying instruments, for 
which there was more use then than now. Obtaining sufficient 
exercise in that way, he rarely or never sought recreation in the 
neighboring forest with rifle or fish-pole, as did almost all young 
men of the period. One of his few relaxations was to sit before 
his office of a summer evening, in the midst of a group of vil- 
lagers, smoking his pipe, and relating and listening to anecdotes 
and gossip. On one of these occasions, during a lull in the con- 
versation, Mr. Johnson suddenly accosted him, saying: 

"Mr. Fillmore, why don't you get into Congress, and procure 
by your influence profitable positions for Hall and me.'"' 

The oddity of the question excited a general laugh, for Mr. 
Fillmore, though a member of the assembly, was still only a 
village lawyer and country surveyor. Deliberately taking his 
pipe from his mouth, however, arid puffing forth a cloud of smoke, 
he replied, quite seriously: 

"Stranger things than that have happened, Mr. Johnson." 
And much stranger things than that did happen. 

In the summer of 1829 Mr. Fillmore was the orator on the 
Fourth of July, and young Hall the reader of the declaration. 
And this brings me to notice that in those times the " glorious 
Fourth" was celebrated with a regularity now unknown. Every 
year, in the vicinity of 1830, I find a record of its due commem- 
oration in Aurora, and I presume the same was the case in other 
villages of similar size. 

By 1830 the opponents of Jackson's administration through- 
out the country had generally assumed the name of National 
Republicans, but in Western New York the anti-masons still ab- 
sorbed nearly all the elements of opposition. In the autumn of 
that year they elected Bates Cooke, of Niagara county, to rep- 
resent this district in Congress. Mr. Fillmore, who had mean- 
while moved to Buffalo and entered into partnership with his old 
tutor, Joseph Clary, was chosen to the assembly for the third 
time, and with him Nathaniel Knight, for several years super- 
visor of Collins. Mr. Knight was the first assemblyman frotn 
any town south of Aurora and Hamburg. 

The supervisors for the year were Moses Case of Alden, T. 
S. Hopkins of Amherst, Jonathan Hoyt of Aurora, Ebenezer 
Walden of Buffalo, Epaphras Steele of Boston, William Lewis 

POST-OFFICES IN 1830. 389 

of Golden, Oliver Needham of Concord, Nathaniel Knight of 
Collins, John Brown of Clarence, Jonathan Hascall, Jr., of 
Evans, Levi Bunting of Eden, Elisha Smith of Hamburg, 
Chase Fuller of Holland, John Boyer of Erie, Horace Clark 
of Sardinia, and Moses McArthur of Wales. 

By the census of 1830 the population of the county was 
35)719) showing an increase of 11,413, or forty-seven per cent., 
in five years. The population of Buffalo Viras 8,668. 

From a register of that year I find there were then twenty- 
seven post-offices in the county. I have been able to give the 
exact year of establishing many of them; the others had all 
been established between 1825 arid 1830. Nine of the sixteen 
towns had one office each, viz., Alden, Amherst, Boston, Eden, 
Erie, Colden, Concord, Holland and Sardinia. Each was of 
the same name as the town, except those in Amherst and Con- 
cord, which were named respectively Williamsville and Spring- 
ville. Four towns had two offices each; Aurora having Willink 
and Grifffn's Mills ; Clarence having Clarence and Cayuga 
Creek ; Evans having Evans and East Evans ; and Wales hav- 
ing Wales and South Wales. Two towns had three offices 
each ; Buffalo, with Buffalo, Black Rock and Tonawanda ; and 
Hamburg, with Hamburg, East Hamburg and Hamburg-on-the- 
Lake. Finally, the fertile fields of Collins must have attracted 
a very large emigration, or else its people were especially given 
to letters, as that town had four post-offices in 1830 — Collins, 
Angola, Collins Center and Zoar. 

It will be seen that two of the offices, discontinued when that 
of " Hamburg " was located at Abbott's Corners, had been re- 
estabhshed, though one of them took the name of " Hamburg- 
on-the-Lake," instead of " Barkersville." The office at."CoUins" 
was then kept by Elijah Kerr, and it must have been near that 
time that the little hamlet there, which had previously been known 
as Rose's Corners, began to be called Kerr's Corners. The post- 
master at South Wales was then Nathan M. Mann, but he offi- 
ciated only a little while, when David S. Warner was appointed, 
who, with a short interval, has held the place ever since. He is 
probably the senior postmaster in the county. 

In this year (1830) the Springville academy building was fin- 
ished, and the academy opened in it, under the charge of Hiram 



H. Barney, Esq., afterwards principal of Aurora academy, and 
still later commissioner of schools of the State of Ohio. This 
was the first incorporated high school, with a building of its own, 
in the county, not excluding Buffalo. 

It will have been observed that there was in the county, out- 
side of Buffalo, about thirty thousand people. There are now 
sixty thousand. But of these about ten thousand are residents 
of the towns carved out of the Buffalo Creek reservation, and of 
Grand Island. So that, in the towns then settled, outside of 
Buffalo, the increase has been but about sixty-six per cent. 
The country towns had then begun to assume something of their 
present appearance. Nearly all the villages now existing were 
then in being — and many of them were nearly as large as now. 
The buildings in them, however, were by no means as large or 
expensive as at the present day. There was probably not a 
three-story building in the county except in Buffalo, and several 
villages were not yet in existence. 

Log houses were frequently seen, even on the main roads, and 
on the back roads were still in the majority. Few new ones, 
however, were built. Of the frame houses the common ones re- 
tained their original wood-color, but the aristocracy covered 
theirs with a coat of glowing red. The old well-sweep still held 
its own, or was replaced by a windlass ; the pump was still an 
institution seldom affected by the farmer. 

The animals of the forest were still often seen, though in de- 
creasing numbers every year. Along the Cattaraugus the bears 
lasted longer than the wolves, and were still frequent in 1.830. 
One case, occurring about that year, was especially noted, in which 
an old Sardinia bear and four cubs were slain in one short cam- 
paign. She was driven across the creek, and shot in Cattarau- 
gus, but swam back to her home on this side, where she and all 
her family were finally slain. 

Deer frequently strayed even into the immediate vicinity of 
Buffalo. Mr. William Hodge mentions killing deer about 1828 
and '30 in the vicinity of the Insane Asylum, and as far south 
as the Normal School. 

On the 20th of January, 1830, the renowned orator, Red 
Jacket, died at his log cabin near the mission church, on the 
Buffalo reservation. He had sunk very low since the time of his 


great struggle over the question of his rank, even hiring himself 
to keepers of museums to be exhibited for money. Having 
returned home, and being satisfied that death was approaching, 
he ralHed his waning powers to give counsel to his people. He 
visited his friends at their cabins, conversed with them on the 
wrongs of the Indians, and urged them when he was gone to 
heed his counsels, to retain their lands and to resist all efforts to 
convert them to the habits of the white man. According to 
McKenney's "Indian Biography," he was anxious that his fu- 
neral should be celebrated in the Indian manner. 

"Bury me," he said "by the side of my former wife ; and let 
•' my funeral be according to the customs of our nation. Let 
" me be dressed and equipped as my fathers were, that their 
"spirits may rejoice at my coming. Be sure that my grave be 
" not made by a white man ; let them not pursue me there." 

Nevertheless, while thus earnest, he was not so bitter as he 
had formerly been. Almost at the last he convened a council 
of his people, both Christians and pagans, and advised them to 
live in harmony, leaving every one to choose his religion with- 
out interference. He was taken mortally sick (with cholera 
morbus) during the council, but a resolution was adopted in 
accordance with his wishes, at which he was much pleased. 

He said he knew the attack was fatal, and refused all medical 
aid. One of his last requests was that, when she saw him near- 
ing his end, his wife should place in his hand a certain vial of 
water, to keep the devil from taking his soul ! Thus, enveloped 
in the superstitions of his race, passed away the last of the Iro- 
quois orators, the renowned Red Jacket. His precise age was 
unknown, but he was probably about seventy-five. His sons 
had all died before him, and but one or two daughters remained 
of a large family, who mostly fell victims to consumption. 

Notwithstanding his wishes, as the members of the Wolf clan, 
to which he belonged, were largely Christian, as well as his wife 
and her family, he was buried according to the rites of the 
Christian Church. 

The remains of Red Jacket had a strange fate, though one 
not inconsistent with his own hapless career. For many years 
his grave remained unmarked. In 1839, however, a subscrip- 
tion was set on foot under the auspices of the actor, Henry 

392 THE orator's REMAINS. 

Placide, and a marble slab with a suitable inscription placed over 
his grave. Long after the Senecas had removed to the Cat- 
taraugus reservation, some admirers of the orator, perhaps fear- 
ing that his grave would be ploughed up, took up his bones and 
put them in a lead coffin, intending to remove them to Forest 
Lawn. His Indian friends, however, heard of the project with 
strong dislike, and immediately came from Cattaraugus, and de- 
manded and obtained the precious relics. The monument was 
afterwards transferred to the rooms of the Buffalo Historical So- 
ciety, where it still remains. 

The most singular part of the matter is that the bones were 
never reburied. When visiting the Cattaraugus reservation, with 
other parts of the county, last year, I was informed that the 
mortal remains of the most celebrated orator produced by 
the aborigines of America are preserved in a bag, under the 
bed of an old Indian woman who has constituted herself their 
custodian ! 



1831 TO 1835. 

" The Year that Holt was Hung." — An Ugly Captive. — Political. — Newstead Ab- 
bey and Newstead Town. — The White Woman. — Buffalo Incorporated. — 
Fillmore in Congress. — The Cholera. — Allen, Haskins and Pierce. — A Mid- 
night Scene. — Commercial Progress. — Lancaster. — Senators, Assemblymen, 
etc. — Speculation . 

The first year of the new decade passed almost eventless away. 
The circumstance which most strongly marks it on the memo- 
ries of old settlers is that it was " the year that Holt was hung." 
Murders had not yet become so common in the county as to be 
flung aside with the morning paper. Nearly seven years had 
passed since the last one, and a still longer time was to elapse 
before there should be another ; so, although the execution of 
the wretch who slew his wife with a hammer, in their room over 
his grocery, on Main street, Buffalo, obtained no such celebrity 
as the awful doom of the three brothers in 1825, still it formed 
an era to which local events are often referred by the men of 
that day. The crime was quickly punished; it was committed 
in October, Holt pleaded guilty the same month, and he was 
executed on the 22d of November. 

It was "the year that Holt was hung" as Mr. Mills Hall, of 
Wales, relates, that nearly if not quite the last wolf was seen in 
that town. Having set a trap for the purpose, young Hall, with 
his brother and another youth, visited it one morning, and found 
a gigantic sheep-destroyer fast in its embrace. Desiring to ex- 
hibit their trophy alive, Mills Hall seized the wolf by the head, 
one of the others supported his shoulders, and the third grasped 
his hind legs, and thus they bore him home. On the way his 
wolfship twisted his head around so as to slightly bite his fore- 
most bearer, but the latter only tightened his grasp, and the 
struggling animal was carried safely to the little village of Hall's 
Hollow. There he was exhibited for a few days, and then slain. 
A bounty of twenty-five dollars rewarded the captors. 


The Anti-Masonic-National-Republican opposition to Jack- 
son's administration still maintained absolute control of the 
county, and in the fall of 1831 elected to the assembly William 
Mills, of Clarence, and Horace Clark, of Sardinia. At the same 
time, Stephen Osborn, of Clarence, was chosen sheriff, and Noah 
P, Sprague, of Buffalo, county clerk. Edward Paine, of Aurora, 
was appointed associate-judge. 

In April, 183 1, the name of the town of Erie was changed to 
" Newstead." It is said that there was much confusion and dif- 
ficulty on account of letters going to Erie, Pennsylvania ; so 
it was determined to alter the name of the town, preparatory to 
changing that of the post-office. But the inhabitants could not 
agree on a satisfactory appellation, and so sent their petition to 
Mr. Fillmore, their representative in the assembly, requesting 
him to have the name changed, and leaving him to select a sub- 
stitute. This being a matter of taste, he consulted his wife. 
Mrs. F. happened to be reading Byron at the time, and she rec- 
ommended the title of the noble poet's ancestral hall, " New- 
stead Abbey," as a convenient and euphonious designation for 
the new town. Her husband adopted her suggestion, and in 
due time the name of Byron's home was transferred to the 
northeastern town of Erie county. As I understand it, the name 
of the post-office was also changed to Newstead, and afterwards 
again changed to Akron. 

The supervisors for 1831, so far as known, were T. S. Hop- 
kins of Amherst, Moses Case of Alden, John Brown of Clar- 
ence, Ebenezer Walden of Buffalo, Epaphras Steele of Boston, 
Nathaniel Knight of Collins, Thomas M. Barrett of Concord, 
Erastus Bingham of Colden, Levi Bunting of Eden, Elisha 
Smith of Hamburg, Chase Fuller of Holland, John Boyer of 
Newstead, George S. Collins of Sardinia, and Moses McArthur 
of Wales. 

It was about 183 1 or 1832 that the first Germans — that is, na- 
tive Germans, as distinguished from Pennsylvania Germans — be- 
gan to settle in the county, outside of Buffalo. They located in 
and about White's Corners, now Hamburg, and some of them 
found their way to the high land in the eastern part of Eden. 
Among minor matters it may be noted that the Congregational 
church at Griffin's Mills (Aurora) was built in 1831. 


In the year 183 1, there came to make her home in the county 
of Erie one whose life had been of the most strange and ro- 
mantic character — albeit the romance was of such a kind that 
few would wish to undergo her experience. Born on the At- 
lantic, in 1743, while her parents were migrating from the old 
world to the new, the restless billows of Mary Jemison's birth- 
place well typified the ever-changing vicissitudes of her long 

At the age of twelve she saw her home on the frontier of 
Pennsylvania destroyed by a band of savages, ^nd all its in- 
mates save herself — father, mother, brothers and sisters— all slain 
by the same ruthless foes. But the caprice so often manifested 
by the Indians toward their captives induced them to spare her 
alone, and to take her to Fort Du Quesne. There she was 
adopted by two Indian sisters, who treated her with the greatest 
kindness and gave her the name of Dehhewamis. 

Ere she had hardly attained to womanhood she was required 
to wed a young Delaware brave, and, though she became the 
bride of an Indian with great reluctance, yet, as she always de- 
clared, his unvarying kindness was such as to gain her affection. 
"Strange as it may seem," she said, "I loved him." For some 
unknown reason she went (on foot, with her children on her back) 
several hundred miles from her home on the Ohio, to take up 
her residence among the Senecas on the Genesee, where her 
husband was to join her. He died, however, before doing so. 
This is the most curious part of her story, and it looks as if 
there was something hidden. about that portion of her life. 

She soon married a Seneca, a monster of cruelty toward his 
enemies, but kind to her. , By this time she had become so fully 
reconciled to her savage surroundings that she declined the op- 
portunity to return to the whites, afforded by the peace between 
England and France, and when an old chief sought to take her 
to Fort Niagara by force, to obtain the reward offered for pris- 
oners thus delivered up, she used every means to baffle his efforts, 
and finally succeeded in doing so. 

She remained among the Senecas during the Revolution, her 
cabin being the habitual stopping-place for Butler, Brant and 
other leaders, while going on or returning from their raids against 
the wretched inhabitants of the frontier. When Sulhvan came on 


his mission of vengeance, her cabin and crops were destroyed 
with the others ; I say " her," for she seems to have been the 
principal personage in the household, as well of her second as 
of her first husband. With her two youngest children on her 
back and three others following after, she hunted up a couple 
of runaway negroes living with the Senecas, whose crop had es- 
caped destruction, and by husking their corn on shares obtained 
enough to feed herself and children through the winter. 

She remained near her old haunts when most of the Senecas 
came west, and, when they sold to Phelps and Gorham, she 
managed to procure for herself a reservation of near thirty 
square miles. This might have afforded her an ample fortune, 
and she did draw considerable revenue from it. But she showed 
little desire for the comforts of civilized life, and .retained to a 
great extent the dress, appearance and habits of a squaw. She 
was commonly called "The White Woman" by the Indians, and 
even those of her own race generally adopted this curious 

In time her second husband died, leaving his savage charac- 
teristics to his eldest son, who developed a nature of the deepest 
malignity, inflamed by drunkenness, who in different quarrels 
slew his only two brothers, and who was finally murdered him- 
self in a drunken brawl. Sad indeed were the latter days of the 
old "White Woman," and they were made still more so by the 
progress of settlement, which shut her off from the wild com- 
panions of so many years. 

At length she determined to spend her remaining days with 
her old friends, and in 183 1, at the age of eighty-eight, she dis- 
posed of her remaining interest on the Genesee and came to 
make her last home on the Buffalo Creek reservation. There, 
amid the barbaric customs wjrich had so strangely fascinated 
her, she survived for two more years ; and then Mary Jemison, 
Dehhewamis, "The White Woman," found rest in the grave, after 
nine decades of a tempest-tossed life. 

In 1832 Buffalo was incorporated as a city, with five wards, 
and a population of about ten thousand. Two aldermen were 
elected in each ward, and they, under the charter, elected the 
mayor and other executive officers. Dr. Ebenezer Johnson was 
chosen the first mayor of the infant city. George P. Barker, a 


young lawyer admitted to the bar only three years before, was 
the first city-attorney. 

The supervisors chosen in the spring, of which there happens 
to be a complete list, were Jacob Hershey of Amherst, Jonathan 
Hoyt of Aurora, Epaphras Steele of Boston, James L. Barton of 
Buffalo, John Brown of Clarence, Erastus Bingham of Colden, 
Nathaniel Knight of Collins, Carlos Emmons of Concord, James 
Green of Eden, Orange H. Dibble of Evans, Elisha Smith of 
Hamburg, Chase Fuller of Holland, John Beyer of Newstead, 
George S. Collins of Sardinia, and Nathan M. Mann of Wales. 

In the fall (which, as will be remembered, was the time of 
Jackson's second election) the two Erie county members of as- 
sembly, Mills and Clark, were both reelected. At the same time 
Millard Fillmore was chosen to represent the thirtieth district of 
New York in Congress. 

To achieve such a success at the age of thirty- two is most 
creditable to the abilities of any man ; and was all the more so 
in this case, the young congressman having had absolutely no 
aid from extraneous sources, and having achieved his entrance 
into the national legislature only nine years after commencing 
life in a country village, as an attorney in the Common Pleas. 
What makes this rapid success the more remarkable is that Mr. 
Fillmore had none of those attributes by which the people are 
most easily captivated. He was neither a "hail-fellow" nor a 
brilliant orator. He succeeded, and succeeded rapidly, by virtue 
of industry, perseverance, clear reason and sound judgment. 

It will be understood that the only difficulty was in regard to 
the nomination ; the election of the anti-administration candi- 
date was a foregone conclusion. The strength of the feeling is 
shown by the fact that in this county William L. Marcy, the 
Democratic candidate for governor, received but 1,743 votes, 
while 4,356 votes were cast for Francis Granger, the opposition 

Israel T. Hatch, a young lawyer just come to Buffalo, was 
appointed surrogate in place of Martin Chittenden, deceased. 
The latter, together with Henry White, a brilliant and much- 
admired young advocate, had fallen a victim to the cholera; for 
it was in 1832 that that dreadful scourge made its first visit to 
the shores of America. 


Passing along the main thoroughfares it inflicted a heavy blow 
upon Buffalo, but it did not spread into the country. Yet none 
knew what track the destroyer might take, and for many weeks 
every village waited with fear and trembling the appearance of 
this hitherto unknown scourge. During a few weeks of July and 
August there were a. hundred and eighty-four cases in Buffalo, 
of which eighty proved fatal. The number was large, for the 
population of the young city, and the horror was rendered 
greater by the mysterious character of the disease. 

The board of health of the new city had for a time plenty of 
business. It consisted of Dr. Johnson, as mayor, Lewis F. Al- 
len and Roswell W. Haskins. Dr. Marshall was city physician, 
and Loren Pierce was city undertaker. All were vigilant and 
effective, and spared no sacrifice in their efforts to counteract 
and circumscribe the disease. 

Very likely Mr. Haskins was no more zealous than the others, 
but his peculiar ways drew particular attention. An energetic 
and somewhat eccentric man, a printer by trade, and for many 
years a newspaper proprietor, his character, as described by 
his contemporaries, reminds one in some respects of that of 
Horace Greeley. Being a person of nervous quickness of move- 
ment, and most incisive language, every one noticed what he did, 
and many still remember him hurrying around the stricken city, 
removing patients to the hospital, and sometimes carrying one 
down stairs, from some wretched tenement house, on his own 
strong shoulders. 

Of a far different temperament, Mr, Pierce performed his du- 
ties in the quietest possible manner, bearing the victims of the 
mysterious destroyer to their last repose with unfailing prompt- 
ness and unflinching courage, but as calmly as if nothing un- 
usual was transpiring. Mr. Allen, who himself served throughout 
the crisis with unflagging zeal, narrates a curious instance of the 
sangfroid of the worthy undertaker. 

One night, in the very height of the cholera season, Mr. A. 
had retired to rest at his residence on Main street, exhausted 
with the labors of the day, when a terrific thunder-storm burst 
forth, "extending far into the night. About midnight he was 
awakened by a rapping at the window. Going to the door he 
found Loren Pierce. The thunderbolts were resounding contin- 


uously through the heavens, the lightnings were flashing from 
side to side of the abyss of darkness, and the rain was falHng in 
torrents. It was an era of dread, and visions of some new form 
of disease and death rose before the appalled mind of the mem- 
ber of the board of health. 

"For Heaven's sake. Pierce," he exclaimed, "what is the mat- 
ter.' Is there any new trouble.'" 

"No," quietly replied the undertaker, "nothing new; I have 
six bodies in the wagon out here, going to the graveyard, and I 
thought perhaps you would like to know that everything was all 

"Good heavens," said the astonished Allen, "have you called 
me up on such a night as this, to tell me that you are taking six 
corpses to the graveyard in a storm that is almost enough to 
drown the city.' You don't mean to say that you are alone.'" 

"Oh no," replied Pierce, "Black Tony is with me — he is 
holding the horses now — I guess we can manage it." Mr. Allen 
had no directions to give — in fact had nothing to say — and 
away through the midnight storm and darkness moved the man 
of death, with his solitary assistant. Black Tony, to dispose of 
his ghastly burthen. It must have taken nearly all night, yet 
at eight o'clock the next morning he was at the meeting of the 
board of health, composed and quiet as ever. 

The cholera returned in 1834, when another epoch of death 
and dismay occurred. It then ceased its visitations for nearly 
twenty years, and, save by the immediate friends of the dead, 
it was soon forgotten in the increasing prosperity of the city and 

The citizens of Aurora had made frequent endeavors to turn Mr. 
Johnson's private academy into an incorporated institution, and 
when that gentleman removed to Buffalo, in 1832, they raised, 
by subscription, the money to erect a building and obtained a 
charter from the legislature. The building was completed, and 
the school opened, the next year. In 1834, also, a church-build- 
ing was erected by the Pi;esbyterians in Springville, and another 
at "Cayuga Creek," the first, respectively, in the present towns 
of Concord and Lancaster. About the same time (I cannot 
learn the exact year) the same denomination built a church at 
Lodi — now Gowanda. 


We have now reached the time when the tide of commerce 
began to roll steadily through our borders. The fertile lands of 
Michigan, northern Indiana, northern Illinois and other parts of 
the West were opened to settlement, and their products began 
to find their way into the Erie canal. Its boats now went loaded 
to the sea coast, and brought back crowds of emigrants, most of 
whom went farther west, but many of whom sought the compan- 
ionship of their countrymen in and around Buffalo. 

Almost at the same time, the closing of the United States 
Bank caused the chartering of a large number of State banks, 
which issued an immense amount of paper money. Frequently 
the guaranties required by the States were wretchedly inade- 
quate, especially in the West and South, so that the new money 
had no better foundation than the faith of the people. 

From these two causes, the increase of western production, 
and the increase of money, the one real and the other fictitious, 
there followed a general inflation of business and advance of 
prices. This inflation extended throughout the United States, 
but nowhere else was it quite so balloon-like in its growth and 
collapse as along the line of the great lake.s, where both the 
causes above mentioned were in their fullest vigor. 

The first symptoms of the great "land speculation" began to 
be seen in 1833, but they were comparatively slight. In 1834 
the tide rose considerably higher, and in 1835 there was a de- 
cided fever, though still the mania had not reached its climax- 
Before noticing farther the great speculation which holds so im- 
portant a place in the history of the county, there are some 
routine matters that need mention. 

There had been no new towns formed since the creation of 
Colden, in 1827. Though Clarence was about seventeen miles 
long, (besides the part included in the reservation,) the steady- 
going Pennsylvania Germans who formed a large part of its 
population were in no haste to create a new set of officers. At 
length, however, the numbers in the southern part of the town 
became so large that a division was almost imperative, and on 
the 20th of March, 1833, a new town was formed, comprising 
the eleventh township in the sixth range of the Holland Com- 
pany's survey, and that part of the mile-and-a-half-strip, sold 
in 1826, which lay opposite that township — besides a nominal 


jurisdiction over the unsold Indian land, to the center of the 

As Clarence had been named after one English dukedom, 
that of another was selected for the new town, which received 
the appellation of Lancaster. The flourishing settlement so 
long called "Cayuga Creek" was now known by the more con- 
venient designation of " Lancaster," and not long afterwards the 
official name of the post-office at that point was similarly changed. 
This was emphatically the church-building era in Erie county. 
Every few months a new one was erected. The Methodist 
church at Clarence Hollow was built in 1834. The same year 
the Baptists built one at Springville. 

In the fall of 1833, Joseph Clary, of Buffalo, and Dr. Carlos 
Emmons, of Springville, were chosen to represent the county in 
the assembly, and Albert H. Tracy was reelected to the State 
senate. This gentleman had taken very high rank in the senate, 
especially when that body was sitting as the Court for the Cor- 
rection of Errors, then the highest judicial tribunal in the State. 
A large number of the opinions in that court were written and 
delivered by Mr. Tracy, and the acumen and legal knowledge 
displayed in them showed that, had he accepted the judgeship 
tendered him by Governor Clinton, he would have stood in the 
first rank of the judicial minds of the State. The mayor of 
Buffalo in 1833 was a gentleman with the peculiar name of 
Major A. Andrews. 

In 1834, William A. Mosely, of Buffalo, and Ralph Plumb, of 
Lodi, were elected to the assembly, while Lester Brace, of Black 
Rock, was chosen sheriff, and Horace Clark, of Sardinia, county 
clerk. In that year, too, Thomas C. Love was elected to Con- 
gress by the dominant party, in place of Mr. Fillmore. Usually 
the dropping of a congressman by his own party, after a single 
term, indicates that he has been "shelved," but such was not the 
result in Mr. Fillmore's case. Dr. Johnson was again chosen as 
mayor of Buffalo. 

In 1835 the assemblymen elect were George P. Barker, of 
Buffalo, and Wells Brooks, of Concord — -the latter a young lawyer 
who had established himself, as had C. C. Severance, at Spring- 
ville, two or three years before. Buffalo's first officer thig year 
was Hiram Pratt, who will be remembered as the young cavalier 


of the Chapin girls, in their flight from Buffalo on the terrible 
30th of December, 18 13. 

The supervisors for the three last years of the semi-decade in- 
cluded in this chapter were as follows: Alden, 1833 and '34, 
Jonathan Larkin ; 1835, Moses Case. Amherst, for the three 
years, John Hutchinson. Aurora, 1833 and '34, Jonathan Hoyt; 
1835, John C. Pratt. Buffalo, 1833, John G. Camp; 1834, un- 
known; 1835, James L. Barton. Boston, 1833, Epaphras Steele; 
1834, John C. Twining; 1835, Thomas Twining. Concord, 1833, 
Carlqs Emmons; 1834, unknown; 1835, Oliver Needham. Col- 
lins, Ralph Plumb, the three years. Colden, Leander J. Roberts, 
the three years. Clarence, Benjamin O. Bivins, the three years. 
Eden, 1833 and '34, Harvey Caryl; 1835, Daniel Webster. Evans, 
Aaron Salisbury, the three years. Hamburg, Elisha Smith, the 
three years. Holland, 1833 and '34, Moses McArthur ; 1835, 
Isaac Humphrey. Lancaster, 1833 and '34, John Brown; 1835, 
Milton McNeal. Newstead, 1833, Wm. Jack.son; 1834, un- 
known; 183s, Cyrus Hopkins. Sardinia, Henry Bowen, the 
three years. Wales, N. M. Mann, the three years. 

In 1834 the first daily newspaper was issued in the county, 
under the name of the Buffalo Daily Star. It was Democratic 
in politics ; so the proprietors of the Patriot, the chief opposi- 
tion organ, followed suite, on the first day of the next year, with 
a daily called the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser. The Star 
was soon united to the Republican, and with it in due time 
transformed into the Courier. In 1835 the Aurora Standard 
was established by A. M. Clapp at that village, where it was 
published for three years. 

In 1834 the first work was done on Grand Island by legal 
owners of the soil. Lewis F. Allen, on behalf of a Boston com- 
pany, had bought all the lands purchased by Leggett, Smith and 
others, at the time of the "Ararat" excitement, amounting to 
about 16,000 acres. The principal object was to cut the white-oak 
ship-timber with which the island abounded, and send it to Bos- 
ton. A steam-mill and several houses were erected opposite 
Tonawanda. About the same time Mr. Allen found Noah's old 
corner-stone in the possession of General Porter, who had taken 
charge of it at Noah's request, after it had stood for two or three 
years behind St. Paul's church. Mr. A. persuaded the general 


to let him have it, took it to "White Haven," as he called his 
little settlement, erected a brick monument six feet square and 
fourteen feet high, and set the historic stone in a niche on its 
river front. Nearly all who saw it supposed that Major Noah 
went through the ceremony of founding his city there, and 
placed the stone where it was so plainly to be seen — though, in 
fact, the redoubtable "Judge of Israel " never set foot on Grand 
Island. The monument remained standing some fifteen years, 
when, having become dilapidated, it was taken down. The 
" corner-stone " was removed to various places on the island, but 
was finally secured by Mr. Allen and presented to the Buffalo 
Historical Society, in whose rooms it now stands, side by side 
with the monument of Red Jacket. In view of Noah's idea 
that the Indians were descended from the lost tribes of Israel, 
there is a peculiar and poetic fitness in the juxtaposition of the 
two memorials. 

As I have said, a slight advance of prices began to be ob- 
served in 1833. They increased through 1834, and in 1835 the 
great speculation was under full headway. It of course ran 
highest in Buffalo, but was strongly felt throughout the county. 
All up the lakes, too, wherever there was a possibility of a har- 
bor, and sometimes where there was not even a possibility, a 
city was laid out, a magnificent name was given it, and its pro- 
prietors became Rothschilds and Astors — on paper. That there 
was some ground for the advance in Buffalo is shown by the 
fact that the population had increased .from 8,653 in 1830, to 
15,661 in 1835, or more than eighty-one per cent. The popula- 
tion of the whole county in 1835 was 57,594, to 35,719 in 1830, 
an increase of over sixty-one per cent. 

The Buffalonians, however, had not quite forgotten everything 
else in their desire to make money. It was just at the close of 
1835 that the Young Men's Association of that city was organ- 
ized, though it was not chartered till eight years later. Begin- 
ning with few members, a diminutive library and an infinitesimal 
treasury, it has ever since grown with the city's growth, exercis- 
ing each year a wider influence for intellectual improvement. 
Church-building, too, had gone on apace, and there were thirteen 
houses of worship in the youthful city, in place of the. six of 
three years before. One of these was Presbyterian, one Con- 


gregational, one Methodist, one Episcopal, one Baptist, one 
Universalist, one Reformed Methodist, one Unitarian, one Ger- 
man Lutheran, one German Evangelical, one Bethel chapel, and 
two Roman Catholic. By this time the little village of Collins 
Center had advanced so that the Methodists built a church there. 
In that year, too, the first anti-slavery society in the county 
was organized at Griffin's Mills. Judge Mills, of Clarence,} udge 
Freeman, of Alden, Judge Phelps, of Aurora, George W. John- 
son, Abner Bryant, and Daniel Bowen, of Buffalo, and Asa 
Warren, of Eden, were among the leading members, and the 
work then commenced was continued by yearly meetings and 
discussions till the abolition of slavery. 




A Rapid Advance. — A Princely Bargainer. — The King of Speculators. — His Down- 
fall. — The Method of his Forgeries. — Politics and Business. — Opposing the 
Holland Company. — An Agrarian Convention. 

Early in 1836 the flame of speculation blazed up with redoub- 
led energy. I cannot better illustrate the extraordinary state 
of affairs existing at that time than by repeating an anecdote, re- 
lated by the late James L. Barton. 

In 18x5 he had bought two lots at Black Rock for two hun- 
dred and fifty dollars ; one of two-thirds of an acre, between 
Niagara street and the river, and one of five acres, about half a 
mile distant. For a long time there was but a slight advance in 
the price. In the fall of 1835, however, land rose rapidly, and 
Mr. B. began to think that those lots might perhaps bring him 
three thousand dollars. 

In the forepart of February, 1 836, he left Buffalo, and did not 
return till the 20th of April. He knew that land was up, and 
was determined to ask a round price for his lots. As he was 
passing down Main street, the morning after his arrival, some 
one met him and inquired : 

" How much will you take for those Black Rock lots of 
yours .'' " 

" Six thousand dollars," was the prompt reply of Mr. Barton. 
The man hesitated and Barton passed on. A few miriutes later 
he was accosted by another gentleman with the same query : 

" What is your price for those Black Rock lots ? " 

" Seven thousand five hundred dollars," answered Barton. 

" I guess I'll take them^let you know to-morrow," said his 
interlocutor. A little farther down the street a third man stop- 
ped him, and as they shook hands said : 

" Glad to see you ; what will you take for your lots down at 
Black Rock ? " 


" I have just offered them to Mr. for seven thousand five 

hundred dollars," replied Barton ; " he said he would let me 
know to-morrow." 

" If he doesn't take them, I will," quickly exclaimed the anx- 
ious speculator. 

By this time Mr. Barton's ideas of the value of his property 
had become very much elevated. He had gone but a few rods 
farther when he heard a shout, and a man came rushing across 
the street, exclaiming as he came up : 

" I say. Barton, what is your price for those lots of yours at 
the Rock .? " 

" Twenty thousand dollars," immediately replied the excited 

" What are your terms .-' " 

" Ten per cent, down and the rest in four annual payments ? " 

" Make it six payments and I will take them," said the other. 
Barton assented, they walked into an office, the two thousand 
dollars was paid over, and the next day the deed and the bond 
and mortgage were exchanged. 

Mr. Barton does not state whether he ever received the 
eighteen thousand dollars secured by bond and mortgage. If 
he did, he was more fortunate than most of those who sold land 
on credit in that era. 

And it was almost entirely on credit that sales were made. 
Notwithstanding the cheapness of paper money, bonds and mort- 
gages were still cheaper. Mr. Barton received a larger cash per- 
centage than was usually paid. 

There was no such thing as land clear of incumbrance. 
Second and third mortgages were common. Hon. George R. 
Babcock relates that nearly the whole of outer lot No. i, extend- 
ing from Main street to the first angle of the Terrace, and thence 
south westward ly to the dock, was sold for a great sum, and the 
only money used was the seventy-five cents paid to Mr. B., as 
commissioner of deeds, for acknowledging the papers. 

The late Guy H. Salisbury, in a sketch of those times, de- 
clared that everybody was so intent on the subject of buying 
and selling land, that physicians, when asked how their medi- 
cine was to be taken, replied : 

" One-fourth down and the rest in three annual installments.'' 


One Patrick Smith, a saddler, being asked by an old customer 
when he could do a piece of work, replied with dignity : 

" My man, I don't do any more business now ; I've bought a 

All was excitement. Men of sagacity bought of unknown 
persons, without knowledge of title or incumbrances. Men of 
no means built blocks on credit, gave mortgages, and sold out 
with no security against those incumbrances. 

Of the financial magnates of the day. Col. Alanson Palmer 
was one of the first. Perhaps he ranked as the second greatest 
man in Buffalo. No one bought or sold with more royal disre- 
gard of trifles than he. Seated at table, with a frieind, where 
the champagne passed freely, Palmer suddenly exclaimed : 

" I'll give you a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for every- 
thing you have, except your wife, babies, and household furniture. 

" Done," replied the other. 

The bargain was carried out, a small amount was paid down, 
and the inevitable bond and mortgage were given to secure the 

This princely purchaser spent some of his later years in the 
poor-house, and died not long since in an insane asylum. 

But Benjamin Rathbun was unquestionably the great man of 
Buffalo, in those halcyon days. Having begun as a hotel-keeper 
previous to 1825, he had eminently succeeded in that vocation, 
and had made the name of "Rathbun's Eagle" synonymous with 
comfort and good cheer. 

When the flush times came on he plunged into business and 
speculation, with a boldness and an apparent success which made 
him the envy of thousands. He built the American hotel. He 
built and managed a grand store on the east side of Main street. 
He entered into contracts of every description, and gave em- 
ployment to thousands of workmen. He bought and sold land, 
not only in Buffalo but throughout this whole section of the 

His ideas were of the grandest kind. He laid the foundation 
of an immense hotel and exchange, opposite "the churches," 
which was designed to occupy the whole square between Main, 
North Divi-sion, South Division and Washington streets. The 
rotunda was to be two hundred and sixty feet high ! 


Although prices began to drag in the summer of 1836, yet 
Rathbun still urged forward his gigantic projects. He bought 
land and laid out a grand city at Niagara Falls, and advertised 
an auction of lots to come off on the second of August, to ex- 
tend as many days as might be necessary. 

On the appointed day a great number of bidders, from all 
parts of the compass, were present. During the forenoon the 
bidding was spirited and sales were numerous. At the dinner 
table Rathbun sat opposite Mr. G. R. Babcock, the junior mem- 
ber of the law-firm of Potter & Babcock, who, like almost every- 
body else, combined the land business with that of their regular 

"I observed, Mr. Babcock, "said Rathbun, "that you made no 
bids this forenoon." 

"No," replied the young man, "the lots sold were not in what 
I thought the most desirable locality." 

"Ah, well," said the great speculator, "come with me after 
dinner and show me some lots you would like to buy, and I will 
have them put up." 

Accordingly, after dinner the two strolled out over the ground 
of the future city, and Rathbun appeared to be in the best of 
spirits. He chatted, laughed, told stories, discoursed of his 
plans, and seemed to look forward to a future as prosperous as 
his past was supposed to have been. 

As they returned to the hotel, Mr. Babcock observed a car- 
riage at the door. Some one called to Mr. Rathbun to " hurry 
up." He did so, entered the carriage with one or two others, 
and drove off toward Buffalo. 

Yet, while he was thus jesting with his companion and talking 
of his future achievements, he knew that his forgeries to a large 
amount had been discovered, that the country was flooded with 
his forged paper, and that the gentlemen with whom he rode 
off had got everything arranged for him to make an assignment 
of all his property. 

On his arrival at Buffalo he was arrested. The forgeries had 
been discovered in Philadelphia by David E. Evans, whose 
name Rathbun had forged as endorser on notes to a large 
amount, which he had deposited as security in a bank in that 
city. Returning to Buffalo, Evans confronted Rathbun, who 


confessed that this was but a tithe of the spurious paper he had 
set afloat. An assignment was arranged, but in the meantime 
Rathbun allowed the sale at the Falls to take place, and kept 
up appearances to the very last. 

The arrest of Rathbun hastened, so far as Buffalo and vicin- 
ity was concerned, the financial catastrophe impending over the 
whole country. Work was stopped on all his numerous enter- 
prises. The workmen clamored for their pay, and almost broke 
out into mob violence. The assignees paid them off, though it 
required nearly all the assets of the estate. The millionaires of 
the day turned pale with consternation. If Rathbun had failed, 
who was safe.' His forgeries amounted to enormous sums. It 
was found that he had been committing them for several years, 
taking up the old notes as they became due, with money ob- 
tained by means of new ones, also forged. 

His brother, Colonel Lyman Rathbun, and his nephew, Rath- 
bun Allen, were implicated with him, and the latter turned 
State's evidence. He was the one who actually wrote the forged 
names, under the direction of his uncle. The method of oper- 
ation was as follows : First, they obtained the actual signature 
of some responsible man, as an endorser for a small amount. 
A small lamp was then placed in a common candle-box, over 
which was laid a large window-glass. On this glass was placed 
the note having the genuine signature, with another for a large 
amount on top of it. The strong light from below, shining 
through the thin paper used for notes, brought the lower signa- 
ture into plain view, and the forger was thus enabled to follow 
it closely on the paper above. An expert would perhaps have 
detected the difference, but to the ordinary observer the simili- 
tude seemed complete. 

These facts, however, did not all come out till the next sum- 
mer, when Benjamin Rathbun was brought to trial at Batavia, 
convicted, and sent to the State prison for five years. He 
served his time, and afterwards regained some of his former 
prosperity, at his old business of hotel-keeping, in New York 

Amid the general dismay, the Presidential election probably 
drew less attention than any other that ever occurred in the 
county. While Van Buren was elected President, and Marcy 


governor, Erie county as usual went heavily for the opposition, 
which had now assumed the name of the Whig party through- 
out the country. Anti-masonry had ceased to exist as a polit- 
ical organization, or as a source of present excitement, but its 
results were seen in the large Whig majorities which Western 
New York gave throughout the existence of that party. Ma- 
sonry, too, was utterly extinct in this section, and any attempt 
to revive it at that time would undoubtedly have caused a re- 
newal of the old excitement. Millard Fillmore, after his two 
years retirement, was again elected to Congress. The increase 
of population shown, by the census of 1835, entitled Erie county 
to three members of assembly, the persons chosen being Squire 
S. Case of Buffalo, Benjamin O. Bivins of Clarence, and Dr. 
Elisha Smith, who had for seven years been supervisor of Ham- 
burg. George P. Barker was appointed district-attorney, and 
Samuel Caldwell surrogate. Judge Samuel Wilkeson was 
chosen mayor of Buffalo. 

The following is a full list of the supervisors for the year : 
Alden, Moses Case; Amherst, John Hutchinson; Aurora, Law- 
rence J. Woodruff; Buffalo, James L. Barton ; Boston, Thomas 
Twining, Jr.; Collins, Ralph Plumb; Concord, Oliver Needham; 
Colden, William Lewis ; Evans, Aaron Salisbury ; Eden, Har- 
vey Caryl; Hamburg, Elisha Smith; Clarence, Levi H. Good- 
rich ; Holland, Isaac Humphrey ; Lancaster, Albert E. Terry ; 
Sardinia, Matthew R. Olin ; Wales, Nathan M. Mann. 

Tonawanda is not represented in the above list, though that 
town was formed from Buffalo April i6th, 1836, comprising the 
present towns of Tonawanda and Grand Island. 

The year closed in gloom and anxiety, though the depression 
had not yet reached its lowest point. Nevertheless, it was dur- 
ing this year that the first railroad was completed in Erie county, 
that from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. 

Steadily prices went down, down, down, all through 1837. 
Throughout the country, failure, bankruptcy and disaster were 
the order of the day. As speculation had probably reached its 
climax in Buffalo, so there the universal reaction was most 
strongly felt. Fortunes disappeared almost in a night. Mort- 
gages were foreclosed on ev,ery hand, and property which but yes- 
terday had been sold for thirty, forty, fifty dollars per foot would 


now hardly bring as many per acre. Banks failed everywhere, 
and the wretched paper money of the country became more 
worthless than before. 

Even in the country towns the reaction, though of course less 
than in the city, produced great distress, and some who had 
deemed themselves rich suffered for the necessaries of life. 

In the course of 1837, matters probably got about as bad as 
they could be, so that after that they did not grow any worse ; 
but it was several years before there was any sensible recovery 
from the " Hard Times," as that era was universally called. 
Unquestionably the designation was a correct one ; for never 
has the country, and especially this part of it, known so disas- 
trous a financial crisis. The " hard times '' inaugurated in the 
fall of 1873 were mere child's play in comparison. 

Even before the crash there had been a steadily growing op- 
position to the Holland Company, throughout the Holland Pur- 
chase, and an increasing desire, on the part of the possessors of 
lands not paid for, to lighten what they felt to be an intolerable 
burden, the long arrears of interest then due. When to these 
was added the weight of universal hard times, the discontent 
rose to still greater heights. 

Meetings were held in many towns, denouncing the company, 
demanding a modification of terms, requesting the legislature to 
interfere, and asking the attorney-general to contest the com- 
pany's ' title. In February, 1837, there assembled at Aurora a 
meeting at which the counties of Erie, Genesee, Niagara and 
Chautauqua were represented, and which boldly assumed the 
name of an " Agrarian Convention." Dyre Tillinghast, of Buf- 
falo, was president; Charles Richardson, of Java, Genesee county, 
(now Wyoming,) and Hawxhurst Addington, of Aurora, were 
vice-presidents ; and A. M. Clapp, of Aurora, and H. N. A. 
Holmes, of Wales, were secretaries. Resolutions were passed 
denouncing the " Judases " who sided with the company, and 
requesting the attorney-general to contest its title. 

In some localities the people did not confine themselves to reso- 
lutions. Without any very decided acts of violence, they made 
every agent of the company who came among them feel that 
there was danger in the air. Whenever an attempt was made 
to take possession of a place of which its holder was in arrears. 


armed men gathered on the hillsides, threatening notices were 
sent, and a state of terror was kept up until the company's rep- 
resentatives became demoralized and abandoned the field. 

There was no chance for contesting the company's original 
title, and the legislature refused to interfere. In most of the 
towns the settlers, in the course of many weary years, paid up 
and took deeds of their lands. In a few localities, however, 
they made so stubborn a resistance, and the company was so 
long in enforcing its claims, that many of the occupants acquired 
a title by " adverse possession," which the courts sustained. 

By 1837 the German population had increased so that it 
would support a German newspaper, and, notwithstanding the 
hard times, a weekly was established by George Zahm, called 
" Der Weltbiirger," It still exists as the "Buffalo Demokrat 
und Weltbiirger." 

Notwithstanding the "hard times," a company was chartered 
to build a macadam road from Buffalo to Williamsville, and ac- 
tually did build it within a year or two afterwards. This was 
nearly, or quite, the first successful attempt to replace one of our 
time-honored mud roads by a track passable at all seasons. 

The supervisors of 1837 were Moses Case of Alden, John 
Hutchinson of Amherst, Lawrence J. Woodruff of Aurora, James 
L. Barton of Buffalo, Amos Wright of Clarence, Oliver Need- 
ham of Concord, William Lewis of Colden, Harvey Caryl of 
Eden, Aaron Salisbury of Evans, Isaac Humphrey of Holland, 
John Boyer of Lancaster, Cyrus Hopkins of Newstead, Mat- 
thew R. Ohn of Sardinia, William Williams of Tonawanda, and 
Nathan M. Mann of Wales. ■ 

In the fall of that year William A. Mosely, of Buffalo, was 
elected State senator in place of Albert H. Tracy, who then 
finally retired from public life, at the early age of forty-four, 
after a twenty-years career of remarkable brilliancy. The as- 
semblymen then chosen were Lewis F. Allen of Buffalo, Cyre- 
nius Wilber, of Alden and Asa Warren of Eden. At the same 
time Charles P. Person, of Aurora, was elected sheriff, and Cy- 
rus K. Anderson, of Buffalo, county clerk. James Stryker was 
appointed first judge of the Common Pleas, and Henry W. 
Rogers district-attorney. Josiah Trowbridge was mayor of 



Outbreaks in Canada. — American .Sympathy.— Navy Island.— The Destruction of 
the Caroline. — Intense Excitement.— Conflicting Rumors.— The Militia 
Called Out.— Arrival of Scott.— Scott and the British Schooners.— Navy Is- 
land Abandoned. — Stealing Cannon. — Expedition up the Lake. — Worth and 
the Volunteers. — A Mild Winter. — Encampment on the Ice. — A Hemlock 
Track to Canada. — Chapin's Death. — A Raid by Sympathizers. — The Last 
Camp. — Buffalo Public Schools. — A Political Revulsion. — An Unsavory 
Treaty. — Cheektovvaga. — Brant. — Black Rock. — Many-term Supervisors. — 
The Harrison Campaign. 

As the winter of 1 837-8 approached, the people of Erie county, 
with those of the rest of the northern frontier, were at least fur- 
nished with something else than their own misfortunes to talk 

For several years there had been a growing discontent in the 
Canadian provinces with the government of Great Britain. 
Among the French population of Lower Canada it was quite 
strong, and at length it broke out in armed rebellion, which was 
only suppressed at considerable cost of blood and treasure. 

After the outbreak there was put down, there were some small 
uprisings in Upper Canada. But, whatever political opposition 
there might have been in that section to the home government, 
there was little disposition to .seek the arbitrament of battle, 
and very few appeared in arms. 

What there were sought a position close to the American line 
in order that they might receive all possible aid from their sym- 
pathizers on this side. For it was impossible that anything in 
the shape of a revolt against British power, whatever the cause, 
or whatever its strength, should not awaken interest and sym- 
pathy on the part of Americans. The two contests in which 
we had been engaged with that country, and the fact that 
we owed our national existence to a successful revolt against 
monarchical government, combined to produce such a result. 
Secret lodges of "hunters," as they were called, were formed along 


the frontier for the purpose of affording aid to the "patriots," 
which was the designation generally given to the insurgents, and 
some armed men crossed the line. 

William Lyon Mackenzie, an ex-member of the provincial 
parliament, and the leader of the rebeUion in Upper Canada, 
after a slight and unsuccessful outbreak north of Toronto, fled 
to Buffalo in the forepart of December, 1837. Meetings were 
held, and addresses made by Mackenzie, by one T. J. Suther- 
land, who was called general, and by several Buffalonians. About 
the middle of the month there was still greater excitement along 
the Niagara frontier, for it was learned that the main force of 
the "patriots" had established themselves on Navy island. 
This was closer to American territory than any other British soil 
in this vicinity. Between it and Grand Island the channel is less 
than a quarter of a mile wide, and it was besides convenient of 
access from the old landing-place at Schlosser. 

There were perhaps three or four hundred men on the island. 
Of these a considerable proportion were Americans, and their 
commander was General Rensselaer Van Rensselaer, who, I am 
informed, was a son of the gallant Colonel Solomon Van Rens- 
selaer, who was wounded on Queenston Heights. 

Days passed on. The people were all in a fever to do some- 
thing for the " patriots." The United States marshal appointed 
thirty deputies from among the most prominent citizens of Buf- 
falo, to prevent violations of neutrality. The winter was one of 
unexampled mildness, and vessels still continued to run on both 
lake and river. • On the 29th of December the little steamer 
Caroline, belonging to William Wells, Esq., of Buffalo, went 
down to Navy island, the intention being that she should run 
back and forth between the camp of the insurgents and Schlos- 
ser, carrying men and supplies. After discharging freight at 
the island, she made two trips to and from Schlosser, that after- 
' noon, and then tied to the wharf at the latter place. 

Early the next morning hurrying messengers reached Buffalo 
with the news that a British force had crossed the river, cut out 
the Caroline, killed fifteen or twenty men, and then set her on 
fire and sent her over the Falls. 

As may be imagined, the excitement was intense. Rumors 
of every kind -flew about the streets. The British had invaded 


Grand Island. They had threatened to attack Buffalo. They 
had killed everybody on board the Caroline and some on shore — 
etc., etc. Further ne)vs, while it refuted some of these stories, 
confirmed the main statement. The Caroline had certainly 
been cut loose from the Schlosser wharf by a British force, set 
on fire, and sent over the Falls. 

A man named Durfee was found dead on the wharf the morn- 
ing after the attack, shot through the brain. His body was 
brought to Buffalo and buried, the funeral being attended by a 
vast and excited crowd, after which a speech of extraordinary 
eloquence and power was made in the park by that fiery young 
advocate, Henry K. Smith. For a long time it was asserted that 
from ten to twenty men had been slaughtered on board the Car- 
oline, and even the English official report stated that five or six 
had been killed. But after thorough investigation it was found 
that no one was slain except Durfee, though two or three others 
were wounded. 

It soon transpired that the assailing expedition was sent over 
by Sir Allan McNab, commanding the British forces on the 
frontier, under an officer of the royal navy, whose proceedings 
were fully endorsed by Sir Allan, and by the governor-general 
of Canada. It was as clear a violation of American sovereignty 
as it would have been of English sovereignty if a successful 
blockade-runner, during the rebellion, had been attacked and 
burned in an English port by an American man-of-war. But 
there was some palliation in the fact that so many of the insur- 
gents were Americans, and Mr. Van Buren, who was then Pres- 
ident, was a very pacific personage. So, notwithstanding a long 
diplomatic contest, no redress was ever obtained. 

Sir Allan McNab claimed that the Caroline had been bought 
by the Navy-islanders. This, however, was denied under oath 
by Mr. Wells, and the denial was undoubtedly true; for the 
whole treasury of the " patriots " would have been hardly suffi- 
cient to buy a canoe. 

The officers and crew of the Caroline numbered ten men, and 
twenty-five more went on board at Schlosser, on account, as 
was alleged, of the lack of hotel-accommodations at that place, 
but probably for the purpose of crossing to Navy island the 
next morning. It was stoutly asserted that none of the crew or 


passengers were armed, but as three of the attacking party were 
wounded, this looks improbable. It was claimed by some that 
they wounded each other in the darkness. 

Over these, and a hundred other controverted points, the Buf- 
falo Daily Star and the Daily Commercial long kept up a heated 
controversy, the former accusing the latter of being in the inter- 
est of the British, and opposed to the patriots who were striv- 
ing to throw off the yoke of a foreign tyranny, etc., etc., while 
the Commercial retaliated by charging the Star with abetting 
unlawful operations, fomenting war, etc., etc. 

Meanwhile, the American authorities were taking vigorous 
measures both to prevent armed expeditions from going from 
this side, and to repel further invasion from the other. A com- 
pany was organized in Buffalo, called the City Guard, under 
Captain James McKay. By order of Gov. Marcy, Gen. David 
Burt called out the 47th brigade of militia, (infantry,) the larger 
part of whom responded, and rendezvoused at Buffalo. Ran- 
dall's brigade of artillery was also called out, and all its com- 
panies marched to the same point. The 47th brigade of infantry 
was entirely from Erie county, and every town furnished its 
quota. Among the officers were Col. Orange T. Brown, of 
Aurora, and Col. Harry B. Ransom, of Clarence. Randall's 
brigade of artillery covered a much larger district. 

On the 5th of January, 1838, the President issued a proclama- 
tion, and sent Gen. Scott to the frontier. He was accompanied 
by Col. William J. Worth, as aide and chief of staff. Scarcely 
had he arrived, when rumors came that the British were about 
to cross and attack Schlosser. The troops, regulars and militia, 
were ordered out and marched to that point. No attack took 
place and they returned. 

A day or two afterwards it was reported that three English 
armed schooners, lying opposite Lower Black Rock, were about 
to fire on the steamer Barcelona, which was plying between Buf- 
falo and Navy island. To Lower Black Rock the troops were 
accordingly marched, and there, sure enough, were seen the three 
British schooners, lying nearly in line, awaiting the Barcelona, 
one of them being in American waters and not far from the 
shore. Scott formed his infantry along the bank, and posted 
his artillery on the high ground in the rear. Then the veteran 


general rode down to the water's edge, hailed the nearest 
schooner, and ordered her to draw out of American waters, and 
not to molest the Barcelona, which could then be seen steaming 
up the river, close along the American shore. After some hesi- 
tation, the schooner lifted her anchor and drew off across the 
line, and the Barcelona passed safely by. 

But the "revolution" could not be kept up much longer. The 
British regulars and Canadian militia concentrated opposite 
Navy island, fiercely cannonaded the forest which covered it, 
and prepared to cross the channel. Rensselaer Van Rensselaer 
was brave enough, but his exchequer was low, his followers few, 
and the hope of reinforcements cut off by the vigilance of Scott. 
So, on the 15th of January, his army fled to the American main- 
land and dispersed in every direction. 

Their stolen cannon they gave up to the State authorities. 
Soon after, however, another attempt was made to furnish the 
disorganized "patriot" army with artillery. Five of these same 
cannon were in charge of a body of militia, at Tonawanda, 
under Colonel Harry B. Ransom. To him came a squad of 
men, whose acting commandant presented an order for the de- 
livery of the five guns, signed by Winfield Scott, major-general 
commanding. Ransom hesitated, but a prominent citizen came 
forward, declared that he knew Scott's handwriting, and that 
the signature was genuine. So the cannon were delivered — on 
a forged order. But the "patriots" were obliged to scatter for fear 
of the United States marshal, and the guns were again recov- 
ered by the State. 

Meanwhile Brigadier-General Thomas Jefferson SWfherland 
had gone to the other end of Lake Erie, gathered a few men, 
and begun issuing proclamations preparatory to an invasion of 
Canada across the Detroit river. A body of United States 
regulars was forthwith sent to put a stop to unlawful proceed- 
ings in that quarter. It was desired to send with them a small 
detachment of militia as far as Erie, Pa., to watch move- 
ments there. Twenty volunteers were called for, and twenty 
men responded from the Aurora company, commanded by 
Captain Almon M. Clapp, then editor of the Aurora Standard. 

The regulars and Captain Clapp's detachment went up the 
lake under the command of Colonel Worth, on the steamboat 


Robert Fulton. An incident which occurred on the steamer 
illustrates the character of that gallant officer. Soon after leav- 
ing Buffalo, the regular commissary brought the rations for both 
regulars and volunteers, and flung them down on the lower deck. 
The volunteers demurred. They said they were not used to 
taking their victuals off from the floor, and did not propose to 
begin then. The commissary roughly told them they might go 
without. They made known their dissatisfaction to Captain 
Clapp, who was in the cabin with the regular officers. He at 
once appealed to Colonel Worth, declaring that his men were 
accustomed to as decent treatment as himself, and did not relish 
such conduct. 

" Certainly not, certainly not," said Worth ; " bring your men 
into the cabin here and let them have their breakfast." 

So the cooks were set at work, and in a short time the squad 
of volunteers sat down to an excellent breakfast, and did not 
have to take it off from the deck, either. 

Stopping at Dunkirk, the troops went to Fredonia, took two 
or three hundred stand of arms, stored there by the "patriots," 
and proceeded by steamer to Erie. A vessel on Lake Erie 
in January is a sight seldom seen, and the presence of one in the 
first month of 1838, marks the mildest winter of which there is 
any record as visiting this county since its settlement. When- 
ever, during the past winter of 1875-6, reference has been made 
to the weather as the mildest ever known, if any elderly resident 
were present, he generally answered: "Not quite; the winter 
of the patriot war was warmer than this." 

The lake was certainly open much longer than in 1875-6. 
But when the Fulton reached Erie the ice was rapidly forming, 
so that it was difficult to enter the harbor, and the planking of 
the boat was badly injured by it. The volunteers remained 
there eleven days and returned by land. 

By this time it was thought the danger of trouble in this vi- 
cinity was nearly over, and Burt's infantry and Randall's artil- 
lery were both discharged. The Buffalo City Guard, however, 
had much increased in number, and was organized into a regi- 
ment ; the first regiment of uniformed militia in the city. James 
McKay was colonel, Dr. Johnson lieutenant-colonel, and George 
P. Barker major. 


The ice rapidly closed over the whole lake, and this circum- 
stance was taken advantage of by bands of sympathizers to 
project another invasion of Canada. A company of the Buffalo 
City Guard and Clapp's volunteers were sent, one cold winter 
night, in sleighs, to the " head of the turnpike," in Hamburg, and 
thence three or four miles on the ice, toward the middle of the 
lake. There they found a most remarkable scene. Thirty or 
forty men had established themselves there on the ice, built 
shanties, procured a plentiful allowance of hemlock boughs to 
sleep on, and were awaiting reinforcements to liberate Canada ! 

They readily surrendered on the appearance of the troops. 
Only a part of them had fire-arms, but there were a large num- 
ber of rude pikes, each consisting of a strong pole with a spear 
several inches long, and a hook of proportionate size. The 
shanties were torn down, the arms seized and the would-be heroes 

One part of their preparations was peculiar enough to deserve 
especial mention. Extending from their camp, in a straight line, 
nearly to the Canada shore, was a row of hemlock bushes, waving 
over the vast field of ice. It was intended that the liberating 
army should march over in the night. But if they did so there 
was danger that in the middle of the lake, with an unbroken 
plain of ice extending in every direction, they might lose their 
way and perhaps perish with the cold. For the part of the 
shore where they intended to land was uninhabited, and there 
would be no lights to steer by. So they put up that line of 
hemlock boughs to guide them on their conquering way, making 
holes in the ice with their pikes, planting the bushes, and pour- 
ing on water, which soon froze solid around them. 

Old Dr. Chapin had been prominent during the winter, making 
speeches at the meetings of the sympathizers, and feeling all his 
youthful fires revive at the prospect of another war with England. 
But his waning powers were unable to keep pace with his feel- 
ings, and in February he sickened and died. He was buried on 
Washington's birthday with military honors, his funeral being 
attended by a vast crowd from whom, despite his failings, he 
had long been a subject of respectful attention as one of the 
founders of the city. 

While some of the people, organized in militia companies. 


were faithfully at work to prevent the violation of the neutrality 
laws, their friends and neighbors were willing to run a good deal 
of risk to aid the insurgents. One of the companies of Randall's 
artillery-brigade, belonging in Allegany county, had returned 
home by way of Aurora and Holland, but, owing to the badness 
of the roads, had been obliged to leave one of their pieces at the 
latter place. It was stored in a barn to await better traveling. 
Some of the sympathizers at Aurora determined to secure it for 
the use of a body of liberators, who were expected to make an- 
other effort to cross the lake on the ice. Accordingly, the first 
sleighing that came, two good teams were hitched to sleighs, 
which, with several men in each, started just after nightfall 
for Holland. Passing rapidly over the intervening ten miles, 
they arrived at that village, drove to the barn where the cannon 
was kept, loaded it into one of the sleighs, put the caisson into 
the other, and had the horses going down the creek-road at full 
speed ere any one else knew what was going on. It is not likely, 
however, that any one would have interfered, even if they had 
known, for the feeling of friendship for the insurgents was so 
general that few cared to oppose it, save when compelled by 
official duty. The stolen gun was forwarded through Hamburg 
to the lake shore. 

Getting possession of another piece of artillery, the "patriots" 
assembled to the number of three or four hundred near Com- 
stock's tavern, in Hamburg. But on the 24th of February a 
detachment of regulars and volunteers, and the crew of a revenue 
cutter, all under the command of Col! Worth, who had returned 
from the West, marched out from Buffalo, surprised the camp of 
the four hundred " patriots," dispersed them, and captured their 
cannon. This was the last serious attempt to invade Canada 
from within the borders of Erie county. 

Rumors of fighting, however, continued to come from the vi- 
cinity of Detroit, but the battles turned out to be of the most 
trivial character. By the 6th of March even these rumors ceased, 
and that was the end of the " Patriot War." A few of the vol- 
unteer militia, however, were kept in service for three months, 
and then returned home. 

Then there was nothing for the people to think of except the 
universal depression of business throughout the country. For 


this, as is not unfrequently tlie case, they blamed the administra- 
tion and the party in power, and aheady murmurs, deep and far- 
extending, foreboded their temporary overthrow. There was no 
need of such aid to the Whigs of Erie county, as they aheady 
had an overwhelming majority, but even that majority was 
doubtless increased by the prevailing discontent. 

The supervisors elected in the spring were nearly every man 
of that party, being as follows : Josiah Fullerton of Alden, Ja- 
cob Hershey of Amherst, Joseph S. Bartlett of Aurora, Joseph 
Clary of Buffalo, Thomas Durboraw of Clarence, Enoch N. Fay 
of Concord, Leander J. Roberts of Colden, Ralph Plumb of 
Collins, Levi Bunting of Eden, Aaron Salisbury of Evans, Eli- 
sha Smith of Hamburg, Moses McArthur of Holland, Milton 
McNeal of Lancaster, John Rogers of Newstead, Elihu Rice of 
Sardinia, William WiUiams of Tonawanda, and Elon Virgil of 

Ebenezer Walden was mayor of Buffalo that year. 

It was during this period, while war seemed imminent, and the 
country was overwhelmed by financial troubles, that the school 
system of Buffalo was reorganized. Before that, there had been 
no public schools there, except district schools, which were un- 
suited to a city, and were attended only by the children of the 
poorer. classes. But the financial crash of 1837 brought a great 
many people under that designation. Most of the private insti- 
tutions went down. The people turned perforce to their long- 
neglected public schools. After one or two attempts, a satisfac- 
tory law was passed in tHe forepart of 1838, reorganizing the 
whole school-system of the city, on very nearly the same plan 
which is still maintained. Oliver G. Steele had been appointed 
superintendent, and he and N. K. Hall originated the law. 

It devolved on Mr. Steele to put the improved system into 
practical operation. Its principal features were large schools, 
divided into departments, thorough supervision by the superin- 
tendent, and substantially free admission to all children residing 
in the city. The schools were soon made entirely free, and a 
central high-school, established a few years later, completed the 
frame-work of the system. There was great interest manifested 
in the subject in the summer of 1838, numerous meetings were 
held, and, notwithstanding much opposition, the people gener- 


ally sustained the new plan. Albert H. Tracy, N. K. Hall, Ho- 
ratio Shumway and Mr. Steele were especially warm in its advo- 
cacy, and prompt in suggesting needed improvements. In the 
summer of 1839 no less than six large, new school-houses were 
built under Mr. Steele's supervision, competent teachers were 
employed, and since that time the schools of Buffalo have been 
maintained in a condition of eiificiency probably not surpassed 
in the State. 

in the fall of 1838 the popular discontent made itself plainly 
visible in numerous State elections throughout the country. 
Governor Marcy in this State being defeated by William H. 
Seward, who became the first Whig governor of New York. 
Millard Fillmore, who had entered public life at the same time 
with Mr. Seward, was for the third time elected member of Con- 
gress from the 30th congressional district. The assemblymen 
chosen that fall were Jacob A. Barker, of Buffalo, Henry John- 
son, of Lancaster, and the Boston pioneer and soldier, Truman 

The year 1838 was also marked by a most strenuous attempt 
to obtain possession of all the Indian lands in this county, as 
well as elsewhere in Western New York. A treaty was sanc- 
tioned by the executive department of the government, by which 
the government agreed to give the New York Indians 1,820,000 
acres of land in Kansas, and build mills, shops, churches, schools, 
etc. A council of chiefs was called at the council-house on the 
Buffalo Greek reservation, in January, 1838. The treaty was 
laid before them, and also a deed by which they agreed to cede 
to the Ogden Gompany all their reservations, for two hundred 
and two thousand dollars ; a hundred thousand for the land, and 
a hundred and two thousand for the improvements. It received 
forty-five signatures of chiefs, either actual or claimed, for it was 
always difficult to tell who were and who were not chiefs. 

The treaty was sent to the senate, who amended it by strik- 
ing out the various appropriations for mills, schools, etc., and 
inserting the sum of four hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Gil- 
lett, United States commissioner, again called the chiefs to- 
gether, and insisted that the deed was good, even if the treaty 
was not ratified. General Dearborn, commissioner for Massa- 
chusetts, declared it was not. The treaty, as amended, was 


signed by sixteen chiefs, and a remonstrance by sixty-three. 
By some means twenty-six more names were obtained, some say 
by bribing the chiefs or getting them drunk. But, after all 
efforts were, used there were only forty-one signatures out of all 
the ninety-seven claimed by both parties as chiefs, while of the 
seventy-five, undisputed chiefs but twenty-nine were signers. 

It afterwards transpired that written contracts had been entered 
into by which the agents of the Ogden Company agreed to pay 
certain chiefs considerable sums of money, besides giving them 
life-leases of their improvements, on condition of their doing 
their best to help forward the treaty and sale. These payments 
were to be in addition to the pay for improvements which those 
chiefs would receive in common with their brethren, and could 
only be looked on as bribes. Nothwithstanding the defective 
number of signatures, and the means used to obtain them, the 
treaty was ratified by the senate. Yet the facts brought to light 
caused so much popular feeling, and the determination of the 
Indians was so strong not to go west, that the company was un- 
willing to proceed to extremities, and did not attempt to remove 
them. The manner in which the difficulty was finally settled 
will be described further on. 

In March, 1839, three new towns were created. On the 22d of 
that month the south part of Amherst was cut off and called 
Cheektowaga, a modification of the Indian name Jiikdowaageh, 
meaning " the place of the crab-apple tree." It is said to have 
been so named on the suggestion of Alex. Hiichcock. Amherst 
was the last of the very large towns of Erie county. Before its 
division it was eighteen miles long, besides the part on the res- 
ervation. Afterwards, there was no town over eleven miles in 

Cheektowaga was already largely inhabited by Germans, and 
since then it has been more completely occupied by them than 
any other town in the county. Curiously enough, consid- 
ering their habit of living in villages in their native country, 
they dwelt and dwell entirely separate in this town. There was 
not, and is not, even the smallest of hamlets within its borders. 
Yet the soil is probably as fertile as any in the county, and it is 
cultivated like a garden. Doubtless its nearness to the city pre- 
vents the growth of villages. At the time of its erection it had 


not even a post-office. It was organized the same year, and 
Alexander Hitchcock was elected its first supervisor. 

On the 25th of March the town of Brant was formed by the 
legislature out of the south part of Evans, and a part of the Cat- 
taraugus reservation, nominally belonging to Collins. It included 
the " mile-strip " and " mile-block " sold off from that reservation 
in 1826. It was doubtless expected, when the town was formed, 
that the sale of the whole reservation would soon be consum- 
ma;ted, in accordance with the " treaty" of 1838, and that Brant 
would thereby become a town of the ordinary size. This ex- 
pectation, however, was disappointed and the space outside of 
Indian teritory is smaller than in any other town in the county. 
What business there was in the town soon began to be attracted 
to Brant Center, where a small hamlet grew up. Brant was 
duly organized, and Jonathan Hascall, Jr., was elected its first 

The same spring, all that part of the town of Buffalo outside 
of the city was formed into the town of Black Rock. It ex- 
tended clear around the city from Black Rock village to the lake 
shore. Col. William A. Bird was elected its first supervisor. 
About the same time a law was passed allowing Buffalo a super- 
visor for each of her five wards, but I have been unable to find 
a full record of the persons elected, for several years afterwards. 
The county legislators, so far as known, for the two last years 
of that decade, were as follows — where but one name and no 
year is, given, the person mentioned held both years : Alden, 
Josiah FuUerton ; Amherst, Jacob Hershey and Timothy A. 
Hopkins; Aurora, Thomas Thurston; Boston, Epaphras Steele ; 
Buffalo, (for 1839 only,) ist ward. Miles Jones; 2d, Emanuel 
Ruden ; 3d, Henry Root; 4th, John D. Harty; 5th, Nathaniel 
Vosburg ; Black Rock, William A. Bird ; Brant, Jonathan Has- 
call, J r, ; Clarence, Thomas Durboraw ; Cheektowaga, Alexan- 
der Hitchcock ; Colden, Leander J. Roberts ; Collins, Ralph 
Plumb; Concord, Enoch N. Fay; Eden, Levi Bunting; Evans, 
Sayles Aldrich ; Hamburg, Elisha Smith ; Holland, Moses 
McArthur; Lancaster, Milton McNeal ; Newstead, Hezekiah 
Cummings ; Sardinia, George Bigelow and Bela H. Colegrove ■ 
Tonawanda, Jedediah H. Lathrop and Theron W. Woolson ; 
Wales, Elon Virgil. 


Hiratn Pratt was again chosen mayor of Buffalo, in 1839, by 
the common council. The next winter a law was passed that 
the mayor should be elected directly by the people ; Sheldon 
Thompson was thus elected in 1840. 

It will be seen that, with three exceptions, the supervisors of 
all the country towns were elected both years, and many of them 
had already been in service for several years before, and remained 
so several years afterwards. In fact, it may be said that, as a 
general rule, supervisors were kept in office a much longer time 
than in these later days. Dr. Elisha Smith was elected super- 
visor of Hamburg twelve years in succession (from 1830 to 
1841, inclusive). Nathaniel Knight was chosen supervisor of 
Collins nine years in succession (1824 to '32, inclusive). Imme- 
diately after him Ralph Plumb was elected to the same office 
eleven consecutive years (1833 to '43, inclusive). So that for 
twenty-four years there were but two supei-visors of Collins. 
After an interval. Plumb was again chosen for two terms. For 
fourteen years, (1838 to '51, inclusive,) Thomas Durboraw, Orsa- 
mus Warren and Archibald Thompson held the supervisorship 
of Clarence, alternating almost regularly during the time, though 
Durboraw was the most favored, holding it six of those years. 

One of the most decided cases of official long life was that of 
Moses McArthur, who was supervisor of Holland for fourteen 
years, after having previously held the same position in Wales 
for two years. His terms, however, were not in regular suc- 
cession, but extended from 1833 to 1851. There were several 
intervals filled by some one else, but every time the people fell 
back on Moses McArthur. Jonathan Hascall, Jr., whose elec- 
tion as first supervisor of Brant I have just mentioned, also had 
a career of remarkable official longevity. He had been super- 
visor of Evans several terms, and on the organization of Brant 
he was thirteen times elected its chief officer. So great was his 
local influence that he was popularly known throughout the 
county by the name of "King Hascall." In later years only 
one supervisor has remained in office eight years, and the aver- 
age time of holding the position has been only about half what 
it was before 1840. 

There was little or no change for the better in the financial 
situation during the last two years of the decade, and the coun- 



try grew more and more whigglsh. In the fall of 1839, three 
Whigs, Seth C. Hawley, of Buffalo, Stephen Osborn, of Clar- 
ence or Newstead, (the ex-sheriff), and Aaron Salisbury, of 
Evans, were chosen to represent Erie county in the assembly. 

The next year came the great excitement of the Harrison 
campaign. Erie county was one of the greatest strongholds of 
whiggery in the United States, and probably developed more 
than the average amount of the enthusiasm then so prevalent. 
Nowhere were there more log cabins erected, more hard cider 
drank, or more coon skins displayed, and nowhere were there 
louder shouts for "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." 

When election day came the Harrison electoral ticket received 
nearly two to one in this county, and was triumphantly elected 
in the nation. Henry W. Seymour was the Presidential elector 
for this district. 

For the fourth time Millard Fillmore was chosen as represent- 
ative in Congress, that being one term longer than any other 
member from Erie county has ever held that office. Lorenzo 
Brown was elected sheriff, and Noah P. Sprague county clerk. 
The assemblymen chosen were Seth C. Hawley and Stephen 
Osborn, reelected, and Dr. Carlos Emmons, of Springville. 

The general depression is shown by the fact that the popula- 
tion of Buffalo in 1840 had only increased a fraction less than 
ten per cent, over that of 1835, having reached the number of 
18,213. The population of the whole county was 62,465, an in- 
crease of ten and a fifth per cent, over 1835. This is the only 
instance of the county's increasing faster than the city. 

In 1839 a new court of record was established in Buffalo, for 
the benefit of city litigants, the judge of which was called the 
recorder. Horatio J. Stow was appointed the first recorder, 
holding his office for four years. 

In 1840 a very important business was started at Akron. A 
Mr. Delano opened a quarry of water-limestone, and began to 
prepare the lime for market. There had previously been some 
small works established at Williamsville, but the Akron water- 
lime soon took the lead, and its manufacture has ever since been 
increasing in importance. The small village, existing at that 
point in 1840, rapidly increased under the stimulus of the new 
industry, and has ever since steadily kept pace with it 



1841 TO 1845. 

The Historic Period Passing Away. — New Treaty with the Indians. — The Tona- 
wanda Reservation Given to them in Fee. — They Surrender the Buffalo Creek 
Reservation. — Its Occupation by the Whites. — Senators, Assemblymen, etc. 
— Supervisors. — The Bar of Erie County. — A Brilliant Galaxy. 

We have now reached a period within the memory of thou- 
sands of not very aged persons, throughout the county. More- 
over, the events and circumstances of historic interest have nearly 
all been passed in review. After describing the hardships of 
pioneer life, the stirring scenes of border war, the construction 
of vast public works, and the general growth of the county 
from a state of nature to that of a civilized community, it would 
be alike tedious and impracticable to recount with equal par- 
ticularity the routine life of contemporary existence. The re- 
maining portion of the county's history will therefore be more 
rapidly passed over. It will not be practicable to note the 
building of churches, and similar minor events, but I will en- 
deavor to make mention of all facts of especial prominence. 

During the period under consideration in this chapter, the 
county was slowly recovering from the terrible financial crisis 
heretofore described. It was not till near 1845 that it could be 
considered to have fully regained a healthy condition, by which 
time moderate prosperity was the rule throughout its borders, 
as distinguished from the feverish fortune-making of ten years 
before. The emigration from Germany steadily continued, and 
in 1841 the men of culture of that nationality, in Buffalo, es- 
tablished the German Young Men's Association, which has 
ever since remained the nucleus of German literary culture in 
that city. 

In 1842, the Buffalo and Attica railroad was completed, giving 
the former place its first railroad connection with the East. Travel 
westward was still by boat in summer, and by stage in winter. 
This was a grand time for Buffalo hotels. Every traveler had 


to stay in town at least one meal, generally over night, and fre- 
quently, in spring and fall, for several days. 

So n.uch opposition was made by the Indians to surren- 
dering their lands, under the deed made by a portion of their 
chiefs in 1838, and so unsavory were the developments in regard 
to the manner in which the sanction of those chiefs was obtained, 
that no attempt was made to take possession of the reserva- 
tions. In May, 1842, however, a new agreement was made, by 
which the Ogden Company allowed the Senecas to retain the 
Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations, (subject to the compa- 
ny's preemption right) and the Indians gave up the Buffalo 
Creek and Tonawanda tracts, on condition of receiving their 
proportionate value. That is to say, the value of all four of the 
reservations was estimated as before at $100,000, and the value 
of the improvements at $102,000, and the company agreed to 
pay the proportion of $100,000 which, according to the decision 
of arbitrators, the possession of the Buffalo Creek and Tona- 
wanda reservations bore to the possession of the whole, and 
the proportion of $102,000 which the improvements on those 
reservations bore to the improvements on the whole. This 
was satisfactory to the Buffalo Creek Indians, but not to the 

Arbitrators duly chosen decided that the proportionate value 
of the Indian title of those two reservations was $75,000, and 
that of the improvements on them $59,000. They also awarded 
the portion of the $59,000 due to each Indian on the Buffalo 
reservation, but could not do it on the Tonawanda one, because 
the inhabitants of the latter refused to let them come on the 
reservation to make an appraisal. After some two years, one of 
the claimants undertook to expel one of the Tonawanda Indi- 
ans by force, whereupon he sued them and recovered judgment; 
the courts deciding that the proper steps had not been taken to 
justify the claimant's action. Finally, to end the controversy, 
the United States opened its purse, as it has so often done before 
and since to help individuals. The government bought the en- 
tire claim of the Ogden Company to the Tonawanda reserva- 
tion, and presented it to the Indians residing there. Consequently 
they now own the "fee-simple'' of the land as well as the pos- 
sessory right. That is, they hold it by the same title by which 


white men own their lands, except that the fee is in the whole 
tribe, and not in the individual members. 

Meanwhile the Buffalo Indians quietly received the money 
allotted to them, and, after a year or two allowed for prepara- 
tion, they in 1843 and '44 abandoned the home where they had 
dwelt for over sixty years, and which had been a favorite ren- 
dezvous of their nation for near two centuries. Most of them 
joined their brethren on the CattaraOgus reservation, some went 
to that on the Allegany, and a few removed to lands allotted 
them in Kansas. 

The company immediately had the land surveyed and divided 
among the members, who began selling it. Settlers began to oc- 
cupy Elma, and that part of Marilla not included in the purchase 
of 1826. Even before the Indians removed, Zina A. Hemstreet 
had previously been allowed to establish a saw-mill at the point, 
long known as Hemstreet's Mills, now generally called East 
Elma. Soon a log tavern and a few houses were erected on the 
site of the present village of Spring Brook. Messrs. Hurd and 
Briggs came to the site of Elma village in 1845, (or possibly in 
1846,) and established large saw-mills there. Ten , or a dozen 
Indian families were still occupying their little clearings in that 
vicinity. "Little Jo.," "Isaac Jonnyjohn " and "Little Jo.'s 
Boy," were among the appellations of the heads of these ancient 
houses. In a year or two more most of them went to the Cat- 
taraugus reservation, and their clearings were occupied by white 
settlers. New clearings, too, were made here and there, log 
houses were erected, and all over the reservation the traveler 
witnessed a reproduction of the scenes of pioneer life. The old 
towns, it will be remembered, still ran to the center of the reser- 
vation, so that the newly opened territory belonged to Black 
Rock, Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Alden, on the north, and to 
Hamburg, Aurora and Wales on the south. 

The increase by the settlement of this new territory was but 
slight during the period under consideration, and the county was 
but partially recovered from the great downfall of 1837, yet the 
census of 1845 found us with a population of 78,635, against 
62,465 in 1840. Buffalo had 29,773 in 1845, to 18,213 in 1840. 
Though still strongly Whig, the county was not so overwhelm- 
ingly so in the previous years. The old anti-masonic feeling was 


passing away, new settlers of various politics were coming in, 
even among the Americans, and the immigrants of foreign birth 
were very largely Democratic. 

In 1842, Mr. Fillmore declined a reelection to the office which 
he had so long and so creditably filled. During the last two 
years of his service he was chairman of the commitee of 
ways and means, the most important post in the house of rep- 
resentatives next to that bf speaker, and discharged its duties 
with marked ability and fidelity. The judicial quality of his 
mind was especially noticed. Said the veteran statesman, 
John Quincy Adams, of Mr. Fillmore, in the fall of 1842: "He 
was one of the ablest, most faithful, and fairest-minded men 
with whom it has ever been my lot to serve in public life." 
William A. Moseley was elected to Congress in Mr. F.'s place. 

In 1844, when Henry Clay was nominated for President by 
the Whig national convention, Mr. Fillmore's name was pre- 
sented by the delegates from New York, and from some of the 
Western States, for the second place on the ticket. Mr. Freling- 
huysen was, however, selected, and then the Whigs, with hardly 
a division, chose Mr. F. as their candidate for governor. The 
State, however, as well as the nation, went for Polk, and Silas 
Wright was elected governor. Jonathan Hascall, Jr., of Brant, 
was the presidential elector from this county. Dr. Carlos Em- 
mons, of Springville, was chosen State senator. 

By this time that pleasant village — Springville — had become 
of sufficient importance to sustain a newspaper, and the Spring- 
ville Express was established ; being published there for four 
years. In 1845 the Buffalo Daily Express was founded by 
A. M. Clapp. The Buffalo Daily Telegraph, a German paper, 
was established the same year, and Dr. Austin Flint founded 
the Buffalo Medical Journal, a monthly devoted to medical 

In the fall of 1841 the people elected to the assembly Squire 
S. Case of Buffalo, William A. Bird of Black Rock, and Bela 
Colegrove of Sardinia. In 1842 they chose George R. Babcock 
of Buffalo, Wells Brooks of Concord, and Milton McNeal of 
Lancaster. In 1843 the successful candidates were Daniel Lee 
of Buffalo, Amos Wright of Clarence, and Elisha Smith of 
Hamburg. In 1844, Daniel Lee was reelected, his associates 


being Truman Dewey of Evans, and John T. Bush of Tona- 
wanda. The next year Mr. Bush was reelected, his colleagues 
being Judge Nathan K. Hall of Buffalo, and James Wood, the 
Wales pioneer. 

In 1843 Manly Colton, of Buffalo, was elected county clerk, 
and Ralph Plumb, of Collins, sheriff. Thomas C. Love, the ex- 
congressman, was appointed surrogate in 1841, and succeeded 
by Peter M. Vosburgh, of Aurora, in 1845. Henry W. Rogers 
was appointed district attorney in 1841, and Solomon G. Haven 
in 1844. Nathan K. Hall was appointed first judge of the Com- 
mon Pleas in 1842, but resigned in 1845, being succeeded by 
Frederick P. Stevens. 

The mayors of Buffalo for this semi-decade were Isaac R. 
Harrington in 1841, George W. Clinton in 1842, Joseph G. 
Masten in 1843 and '45, and William Ketchum in 1844. 

The records of supervisors for this period are nearly complete, 
except in the city of Buffalo, where there appears to have been, 
none preserved until 1844. So far as known the list is as follows: 
Amherst, 1841, '42 and '43, Timothy A. Hopkins ; 1844 and 
'45, John Hershey. Alden, 1841 and '42, Dexter Ewell ; 1843, 
'44 and '45, John D. Howe. Aurora, 1841, '42 and '44, Thomas 
Thurston; 1843, Jonathan Hoyt ; 1845, Hezekiah Moshier. 
Boston, 1840 and '41, Epaphras Steele; 1842, Ezra Chaffee; 
1843, John Brooks; 1844, Orrin Lockwood. Black Rock, 1841 
and '45, William A. Bird ; 1842, Alvan Dodge; 1843, Samuel 
Ely; 1844, Robert McPherson. Brant, 1841, '42, '43 and '44, 
Jonathan Hascall, Jr. ; 1845, Job Southwick. 

Buffalo, 1st ward, 1844, Walter S. Hunn, 1845, Charles S. 
Pierce; 2d ward, 1844 and '45, Noah H. Gardner; 3d ward, 
1844 and '45, Henry Daw ; 4th ward, 1844, George W. Clinton, 
184s, Dyre Tillinghast ; Sth ward, 1844, John M. Bull, 1845, 
Francis C. Brunck. 

Clarence, 1841, Thomas Durboraw; 1842 and '44, Archibald 
Thompson ; 1843 and '45, Orsamus Warren. Colden, 1841, '42 
and '43, Philo P. Barber ; 1844, Samuel B. Love ; 1845, Benja- 
min Maltby. Cheektowaga, 1841, '43 and '44, Alexander Hitch- 
cock ; 1842, Darius Kingsley ; 1845, James Warner. Collins, 
1841, '42 and '43, Ralph Plumb ; 1844 and '45, John L. Henry. 
Hamburg, i84i,Elisha Smith ; 1842, Isaac Deuel; 1843, Joseph 
Foster; 1844, Clark Dart; 1845, Amos Chilcott. Holland, 
1841, Samuel Corliss; 1842, '43, '44 and '45, Moses McArthur. 
Lancaster, 1841, Norman R.Dewey; 1842, '44 and '45, Mil- 
ton McNeal ; 1843, Elijah M. Safford. Eden, 1841, '44 and 


'45, William H. Pratt ; 1842, James Tefft ; 1843, Harvey Caryl. 
Sardinia, 1841 and '45, Bela H. Colegrove ; 1842 and '44, Fred- 
erick Richmond ; 1843, George Bigelow. Wale.s, 1841, Ira G. 
Watson ; 1842, Elon Virgil ; 1843 and '44, Isaac Brayton ; 1845, 
David S. Warner. 

These were the halcyon days of the Erie county bar. Un- 
less all traditions are utterly false, our county, during the period 
from 1830 to 1850, was distinguished by a galaxy of legal lumi- 
naries hardly surpassed in the State ; a galaxy which probably 
reached its greatest brilliancy between 1840 and 1845. 

The celebrated firm of Fillmore, Hall & Haven had dissolved, 
and its second member had gone upon the bench, but juries 
were still occasionally swayed by the persuasive yet candid ad- 
vocacy of Millard Fillmore, and often delighted by the wit and 
tact of Solomon G. Haven. Then the old court-house, which 
has just been torn down, rang with the fiery denunciations of 
Henry K. Smith, whose dark features and fervid speech re- 
minded one of the Cuban shore on which he was born. Then 
a younger orator, of elegant yet commanding presence, lifted 
up his voice in tones of alternate pathos and scorn, till men 
from both city and country willingly surrendered their hearts to 
the eloquence of Eli Cook. Then Thomas T. Sherwood fumed 
and fretted around the bar, and thundered in somewhat sledge- 
hammer style, but all the while kept up an excellent understand- 
ing with the jury, forced his own ideas into them by main 
strength, and carried verdicts by the score. Mr. S. seems to 
have been predisposed toward his overwhelming style of con- 
ducting a case, not only by his temper but his judgment. He 
believed in pounding. On one occasion the junior counsel in a 
suit in which he was engaged opened the case to the jury. As 
he was about to close, Mr. Sherwood got his ear and whispered : 

" Go over with the case again, and make this point — and this 
one — and this one." 

" Why," replied the surprised junior, " I have made all those 
points already." 

"Yes, I know," said Sherwood, "but hammer it into them — 
hammer ifinto them." And by " hammering it into them," he 
gained many a case. 

Of a far different order of mind, deliberate and impressive in 
speech, logical in intellect, and thoroughly versed in legal lore, 


was John L. Talcott, one of the few survivors of that brilHant 
throng. A. H. Tracy seldom appeared in the legal arena, but 
was recognized as possessing forensic abilities of the highest class. 
The veteran Potter, the Nestor of the profession, was an au- 
thority on every thing relating to real estate, and his partner, 
George R. Babcock, had already attained a prominent position. 

Henry W. Rogers, who was district-attorney during most of 
the period in question, ranked high as a learned and successful 
practitioner, as did also Congressman Moseley, Dyre Tillinghast, 
Benj. H. Austin and the future judge, Seth E. Sill. The county 
had not been so fully absorbed into the city as now, and Albert 
Sawin and Lafayette Carver, of Aurora, Wells Brooks and C. C. 
Severance, of Springville, and some others, were resorted to by 
numerous clients. 

But the bright particular star of the bar of Erie county, the 
orator on whose lips juries and audiences hung with most intense 
delight,, was George P. Barker. The period of his great brilliancy 
extended from about 1835 to '45, during the last three years of 
which time he was State attorney-general, when his health began 
to decline as he drew toward the close of his brief and brilliant 
career. Others might have had a better knowledge of law, more 
logical methods of argument, or more skill in the management 
of cases, but none had such wondrous powers of language, none 
had such control over the feelings of an audience. No matter 
whether in the court-room or on the political platform, whether 
in city hall or on back-woods stump, his name never failed to 
draw a numerous audience, and his voice never failed to charm 
those whom his name had drawn. Being a radical Democrat, 
his party was in a hopeless minority in the county and the dis- 
trict, but he clung to it with unwavering fidelity. Had fortune 
given power to his political friends, he would doubtless have 
been chosen to represent them in Congress, and would have 
been expected to measure lances with the most brilliant pala- 
dins of debate in the national tournament. 


1846 TO 1850. 

Prosperity. — The University of Buffalo. — The Medical Department. — Hamilton, 
Flint and White. — The New Constitution. — Officials of the Period. — Mr. 
Fillmore Nominated for Vice-President. — The Free-Soil Movement. — The 
Buffalo Convention. — Mr. Fillmore Elected Vice-President. — He Becomes 
President. — The Compromise Measures. — Mr. Haven Elected to Congress. 
— Hamburg Divided. — Mayors and Supervisors. — The Ebenezer Society. — 
German Progress. 

We now find the subject of this history in a condition of decid- 
ed prosperity. Money was reasonably plenty, without being so 
abundant as to cause fears of another crash. After long years 
of labor, most of the farmers had their land paid for, or so nearly 
as to be able to see their way through. On all the back roads 
handsome farm-houses were being erected in place of the log 
structures of primeval times. New churches sent up their spires 
in almost every hamlet, and the old log or red frame school- 
house was frequently replaced by a neat, white building, the 
typical American school-house of the present day. 

The villages showed less improvement than the farming coun- 
try ; for Buffalo more and more absorbed the trade of all the 
country around. That city was again on the high tide of suc- 
cess. No financial depression could long hinder the growth of 
the mighty West, and, as there were no through lines of railway, 
its produce must be poured through the Erie canal. Great fleets 
transferred their cargoes of grain from the lake to the canal, at 
Buffalo, and the vicinity of the harbor swarmed with thousands 
of laborers. 

New streets were laid out, and old ones pushed their way far- 
ther into the country. New and better buildings rose, too, on 
the sites of old ones, but not of a very high order ; Buffalo has 
never been distinguished by the splendor of its architecture. 
The grand crash of 1836 came too soon to allow the newly- 
found wealth of the citizens to bloom into architectural magnifi- 
cence, and probably remembrance of it has tended very strongly 


to repress all seven-story aspirations. Not only has no attempt 
been made to equal Rathbun's abortive Exchange, but the busi- 
ness blocks of Buffalo are plainer in appearance than those of 
almost any other city of its size in the country. 

One grand project was originated about 1845, but it was only 
partially carried out. This was the "University of Buffalo." 
A charter was procured for a grand institution of learning, in- 
tended to rival Harvard and Yale, with separate departments 
for the liberal professions. Under this charter, the medical de- 
partment was organized in August, 1846, as the Buffalo Medical 
College. It soon took, and has ever since maintained, high rank 
among American institutions of that class, while the university 
of which it was to be a part has disappeared even from the 
imaginations of men. 

Dr. Frank H. Hamilton, Dr. Austin Flint and Dr. James P. 
White soon took the lead among the instructors of the infant 
college, and are designated as its founders by those who best 
know its history. After bringing the institution to a high de- 
gree of efficiency, Hamilton and Flint went to the city of New 
York, where they now stand in the front rank of the physicians 
of the metropolis, while Dr. White remained at the head of the 
Buffalo college. 

In 1846 a new State constitution was formed, being, except 
some amendments, the same under which we now live. By its 
provisions, judges, district-attorneys and nearly all other officers 
were to be elected by the people. It also provided that senators 
should hold but for two years, and that there should be a sen- 
atorial district for every senator, and an assembly district for 
every assemblyman. The court of Common Pleas was ex- 
changed for a county court, presided over by a county judge. 
There were no associate judges, but in criminal cases he was to 
be assisted by two justices of sessions. The State was also 
divided into eight judicial districts, each of which elected four 
justices of the Supreme Court, Erie county being in the eighth 
district. The new constitution was ratified by the people in 
1846, but no officers were elected under it until the next year. 

In the fall of 1846, Timothy A. Hopkins of Amherst, son of 
the early pioneer and soldier. General Hopkins, was elected 
sheriff, and Moses Bristol of Buffalo, county clerk. At the same 


time Horatio Shumway of Buffalo, John D. Howe of Alden, 
William H. Pratt of Eden, and Obadiah J. Green of Sardinia, 
were elected to the assembly. The increase from three to four 
members was the result of the new apportionment, under the 
census of 1845. 

A special election was held in June, 1847, to choose judi- 
cial officers and district-attorneys, as directed by the new con- 
stitution. The eighth judicial district being overwhelmingly 
Whig, four Whig justices of the Supreme Court were elected, 
among whom were Seth E. Sill of Buffalo, and James Mullett of 
Chautauqua county, who also kept an office in Buffalo. In this 
county, however, owing to a defection among the Whigs, all their 
candidates were defeated — for the first time since the organiza- 
tion of the party. The Democrats elected Frederick P. Stevens 
county judge, Peter M. Vosburgh surrogate, and Benjamin H. 
Austin district-attorney. 

In the succeeding autumn the first State officers were chosen 
under the new constitution. Millard Fillmore was nominated 
by the Whigs for comptroller. The fight between the " Hunker" 
and " Barnburner" wings of the Democracy was then in full blast, 
and Mr. Fillmore and his associates were elected by a large ma- 
jority. At the same time John T. Bush, of Tonawanda, was 
chosen as State senator from the 31st senatorial district, (Erie 
county,) with the following assemblymen : Elbridge G. Spauld- 
ing and Harry Slade of Buffalo, Ira E. Irish of Hamburg, and C. 
C. Severance of Concord. 

In June, 1848, after Gen. Taylor had been nominated for the 
Presidency by the Whig national convention at Philadelphia, 
Mr. Fillmore was selected for the second place on the ticket. 
The Democratic national convention nominated Cass and But- 
ler for President and Vice-President, but the contest was not 
confined to the two tickets just named. The " Barnburners," 
or Radical Democrats, had espoused the cause of the Wilmot 
Proviso, which was intended to exclude slavery from the terri- 
tory lately acquired from Mexico. The proceedings of the Dem- 
ocratic convention at Baltimore not having been satisfactory to 
them, the " Barnburners " met in convention at Utica, and nom- 
inated Martin Van Buren for President, with a Vice-Presidential 
candidate from the West, who declined the honor. 


As it was desired, however, to unite as many as possible of the 
opponents of slavery-extension throughout the country, the cel- 
ebrated Buffalo convention was called to meet in that city. 
Thus it was that on the ninth day of August, 1848, the Queen 
City of the Lakes was crowded with distinguished strangers, and 
with numerous residents of the vicinity, about to take part in 
the only political assemblage of national interest which has ever 
met within its limits. 

It was a mass convention, attended by men from every North- 
ern State, and also from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. A 
great tent had been erected in the court-house park, and at 
noon the multitude assembled beneath it was called to order. 
Nathaniel Sawyer, of Ohio, was elected temporary chairman. 

A committee on permanent organization was then appointed, 
consisting of one from each State represented. Of its members 
many have since died, and all have ceased to be known in polit- 
ical circles, with one exeeption : Michigan was represented by 
Isaac P. Christiancy, now senator from that State. 

At the beginning of the afternoon session the park was filled 
with an eager throng, and large numbers congregated in the ad- 
jacent streets. The committee on organization, through their 
chairman, Preston King, reported the name of Charles Francis 
Adams, of Massachusetts, as president of the convention, who 
was forthwith elected. Thereupon a committee of two escorted 
to the chair a small, unpretending man, scarcely forty years of 
age, but looking somewhat older from partial baldness, who then 
for the first time became prominent before the nation, but who 
has since been a leader among its statesmen, has fulfilled its 
most important diplomatic trusts with consummate skill, and 
now remains almost the only survivor of the then eminent mem- 
bers of the convention, over which he presided twenty-eight years 

One of the committee who attended him to the chair was a 
robust, broad-shouldered man, about thirty-eight years old, with 
a bold, high forehead, a compressed mouth, and a face written 
all over with the evidence of courage and determination. This 
was Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, then just entering on his bril- 
liant and useful national career. 

A committee on resolutions was appointed, of which Benjamin 


F. Butler was chairman. That gentleman has been obliterated, 
as it were, by another political luminary bearing the same name, 
but in his day Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, was a power 
in the land, being the right-hand man of Mr. Van Buren in his 
political contests, and attorney-general of the United States 
during his friend's Presidency. 

For the purpose of equalizing the representation a committee 
of conference, consisting of six conferees-at-large from each State, 
and three from each congressional district, was appointed by the 
delegates of the respective States, to whom was referred the 
nomination of candidates. 

While awaiting the action of these committees several gen- 
tlemen addressed the convention, and members of the celebrated 
Hutchinson family sang their inspiring songs of freedom. 
Among the speakers none attracted more attention than a tall, 
white-haired old man, whose bold and vehement denunciations 
of slavery were cheered to the echo by the multitude. This was 
Joshua R. Giddings, of Ohio, long known as the Nestor of the 
anti-slavery contest. There were several other speakers, and 
seated modestly with the Massachusetts delegation was a young 
gentleman, since well known to fame as Richard H. Dana, Jr. 

The committee of conference met at the court-house in the 
evening, and appointed Salmon P. Chase chairman, but declined 
to nominate candidates until the convention should have adopted 
a platform of principles. 

The next morning the proper committee reported a series of 
resolutions, embodying the creed of the free-soilers, which was 
substantially the same as that afterwards promulgated by the 
Repubhcan party. While repudiating all claim on the part of 
the Federal government to interfere with slavery in the States, 
they declared that that institution should be prohibited in all 
the territory subject to the jurisdiction of Congress. "No more 
slave States and no slave territories," was the summing up of 
the whole. Of course they were enthusiastically adopted. 

On this action being reported to the committee of conference, 
which had met in the Second Universalist church, they pro- 
ceeded to the nomination of candidates. The selection was by 
no means a foregone conclusion. Although they were entering 
on an utterly hopeless contest, and although Mr. Van Buren had 


been nominated by a convention of the Free-Soil Democrats of 
New York, who constituted the bulk of the new party, yet there 
was a strong feeling among the thorough-going anti-slavery 
men in favor of selecting Hon. John P. Hale, of New Hampshire. 

Mr. Butler was called on by the committee of conference to 
explain the position of Mr. Van Buren, and did so at consider- 
able length. When the informal ballot was taken Martin Van 
Buren had 244 votes and John P. Hale 181, while 41 were re- 
ported as scattering. Mr. Van Buren had only 22 majority over 
all others. However, the vote was at once made unanimous. 

On consultation, the feeling in regard to the choice for Vice- 
President was found to be so strong in one direction that all 
other names were withdrawn, and Charles Francis Adams was 
unanimously nominated. 

It was not until the evening of that day that the names 
adopted by the committee were reported to the mass conven- 
tion. Mr. Adams, being one of the nominees, called Mr. Chase 
to the chair, who submitted the nominations to the assemblage. 
The multitude, which filled the great tent to its utmost capacity, 
responded with tumultuous cheers, and Martin Van Buren and 
Charles Francis Adams were made the standard-bearers of the 
" Free Democratic " party in the coming campaign. 

David Dudley Field then read a letter from Mr. Van Buren, 
several short but vigorous speeches were made, and it was eleven 
o'clock ere an adjournment was carried, and the Buffalo Con- 
vention became a thing of the past. Although its nominees did 
not carry a single State, yet its action had a strong influence in 
strengthening the growing opposition to slavery propagandism, 
which at length resulted in the entire overthrow of the in- 

Its only apparent result that year, however, was to give the 
State of New York to the Whigs, and cause the election of 
Gen. Taylor and Mr. Fillmore. At the same time, Elbridge G. 
Spaulding was chosen as memL>er of Congress from Erie county, 
the assemblyman elect being Benoni Thompson of Buffalo, Au- 
gustus Raynor of Clarence, Marcus McNeal of Newstead, and 
Luther Buxton of Evans. Christian Metz, Jr., was elected 
county treasurer. 

The next spring a citizen of Erie county was installed in the 


second office in the Republic. As Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore's 
only duty was to preside over the senate, a duty for which his 
equable temperament and judicial turn of mind peculiarly fitted 

In the autumn of 1849, George R. Babcock was chosen State 
senator, while Orlando Allen and Elijah Ford of Buffalo, Ira E. 
Irish of Hamburg, and Joseph Candee of Sardinia, were elected 
to the assembly. Le Roy Farnham of Buffalo was chosen 
sheriff, and Wells Brooks of Concord, county clerk. 

On the 9th day of July, 1850, General Taylor died, and Mil- 
lard Fillmore became President of the United States. He was 
then fifty years of age ; it was twenty-one years since he had 
entered public life as a member of the assembly, twenty-seven 
years since he had commenced the practice of law in Aurora, 
and thirty-one years since he had been a clothier's apprentice. 

His first task was of course the formation of his cabinet. In 
selecting its members, after making Daniel Webster secretary of 
state, Thomas Corwin secretary of the treasury, and John J. 
Crittenden attorney-general, he called his former student and 
partner, Nathan K. Hall, who had been a member of Congress 
but a single term, to the office of postmaster-general. The 
seeming favoritism occasioned some comment, but Mr. Hall's 
unquestioned integrity, sound judgment and laborious devotion 
to duty well fitted him for the post to which he was called, and 
it is doubtfulif it has ever been more worthily filled. 

Congress was still in session when Mr. Fillmore became Pres- 
ident, and all through the hot summer months it continued to 
wrestle with problems caused, and passions aroused, by the same 
question of slavery which ten years later came to a blpody ar- 
bitrament. Both houses at length passed the celebrated "Com- 
promise Measures" embodied in five acts, which provided for 
the admission of California, the organization of the territories 
of New Mexico and Utah without any prohibition of slavery, 
the abolition of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, and 
the summary return of fugitive slaves, claimed to have escaped 
from one State to another. The President signed them all. 
The last named act, commonly called the Fugitive Slave Law, 
was strongly denounced by a large portion of the Whig party, 
as well as by a considerable number of the northern Democrats. 


It is not necessary here to discuss the merits or demerits of that 
law, nor of the compromise measures generally. Notwithstand- 
ing the opposition just referred to, all those measures were sanc- 
tioned by a majority of both parties, and for a short time the 
excitement regarding slavery sank to comparative quiet. 

Mr. Fillmore's friends were naturally desirous that his own 
county should be represented by some one who approved his 
course, and it was probably for that reason that Solomon G. 
Haven, the third member of the renowned firm of Fillmore, 
Hall & Haven, was brought forward as a candidate for Congress. 
There was a very earnest contest for the Whig nomination, but 
Mr. Haven carried the convention, and was duly elected in No- 
vember. By the census of 1850 the population of the county 
was 100,993, an increase of 22,358 in five years, while that of 
Buffalo was 42,261, an addition of 12,488 to the number in 


Near the close of this decade, (about 1848,) the village on the 
Cattaraugus, first called Aldrich's Mills and then Lodi, suffered 
another change of title. The fact that there were a village and 
a post-office called Lodi, in Seneca county, caused constant con- 
fusion in regard to letters. There had by this time grown up a 
thriving place on both sides of the Cattaraugus, the people of 
which thought themselves numerous enough to be incorporated 
as a village. They determined to have a name entirely unique, 
and they succeeded. The village was incorporated as " Go- 
wanda," and it is safe to say that that name is not mistaken for 
any other. The village is partly in Erie and partly in Cattar- 
augus counties, and has, since its incorporation, been steadily 
growing into one of the most flourishing places in Western 
New York. 

No new town was formed during the semi-decade under con- 
sideration until October iSth, 1850, when Hamburg, which had 
stood unchanged since 1812, was divided by the board of super- 
visors, who were then intrusted with the necessary power. All 
but the two western tiers of lots in township Nine, range Seven, 
were included in the new town, which received the name of EUi- 
cott. It was organized by the election of officers the next spring. 
The name